To understand the mechanisms of environmental forcing in cold water coastal ecosystems and to explain ecosystem function in response to global change on an evolutionary scale
Global change affects marine ecosystems via environmental forcing and thus interferes with all levels of organization, from cell biology to system properties such as biodiversity. It is a challenging but essential task to identify links between climate change and ecosystem response and to develop measures that describe ecosystem function in response to change along environmental gradients.
Our tasks are
• to identify general indicators and measures to monitor ecological change in coastal polar and cold-water ecosystems with emphasis on rocky shores
• to analyse cause-and-effect relationships between environmental signal and indicator response
• to integrate information derived from indicators into scenarios and models of long- term change.
We pursue an integrated strategy that concentrates on
• functional biochemical properties of key organisms such as gene expression, metabolic performance and stress tolerance;
• structure and dynamics of the gene pool in space and time;
the significance of these attributes for
• acclimation and adaptation to changing environmental conditions;
and consequences for the
• long-term development of ecosystem function with an emphasis on trophic properties and indirect interaction patterns
• scenario and model development supported by recording ongoing changes and reconstruction of environmental and ecological history.