Coastal seas are highly variable environments, with variation on all time scales from seconds to decades, and spatial scales from mm to km. Organisms living in such zones should be adapted to this large variation, but potentially not to the changes that are currently taking place in our coastal seas. Thus, coastal organisms represent the ideal case to contrast the effects of natural and non-natural variation in a multiple-stressor approach. The research in the section SSSE puts the responses of individual organisms and species to these stressors, both in terms of physiology, ecology and evolution, into a population and community context.
The research of the section SSSE comprises observational and experimental approaches. Using the Helgoland Roads Ecological Time Series and other long-term observational data, we generate and develop hypotheses on the impacts of ecological stressors on individuals and communities that are then tested experimentally in set-ups of different scales.
Scientifically, most of the research of the section is at home in the coastal workpackages 2.1 and 2.2 of the PACES II programme. Geographically, the focus of the section lies in the pelagic and benthic communities of the North Sea, with comparisons to other shelf sea systems.
Given the large temporal and spatial spectra we work on a range of differently sized organisms, ranging from bacteria and viruses through to plankton and fish. Ultimately, we aim to understand and predict the effects on anthropogenic pressure on our shelf sea communities.