Why do species and communities of coastal ecosystesm show specific patterns in their occurrence, what are the underlying processes and do overall principles for different ecosystems exist? These are the primary questions of my research. My particular interest focuses on species interactions in temperate and Arctic regions and on the effects alien marine organisms on native coastal ecosystems.
Parasites are everywhere! That's why I spent my whole scientific carreer with research on "host-parasite coevolution". I started out with investigating the selective maintenance of genetic variability of immune genes (MHC) in three-spined sticklebacks in the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology. From there I went to the Institute of Integrative Biology (IBZ) at the ETH Zürich where I studied experimental coevolution of red flour beetles and their microsporidian parasites. Being a native islander, bringing my favorite research subject to the Waddensea station of the AWI was a logical consequence. Here, I make use the unique evolutionary histories of invasive species to understand host-parasite coevolution in the wild.
I am interested in the evolutionary potential of populations to respond to rapidly changing environments. During my PhD, I investigated the influence of gene flow and phenotypic plasticity in promoting and constraining adaptation in populations of an alpine caddisfly. As a PostDoc, I started dabbling in the realm of quantitative genetics, and assessed the relative contributions of selection and drift (Qst / Fst) to latitudinal variation of growth rate for populations of a damselfly. My current work with marine sticklebacks focuses mainly on transgenerational plasticity (parental environment effects on offspring traits) in response to ocean warming. So far, I can say that maternal effects play an important role in populations’ adaptive responses to climate change, but also carry-over effects from grandparent environments (particularly from grandmothers) shape offspring growth, physiology and gene expression.
Alexandre Fellous (Postdoc)
Since the very beginning of my scientific career, I was always interested to study the biology of organisms from the molecule to populations in relation to human perturbations or climate change. During my Ph.D. in France, I shifted from ecophysiology and toxicology of algae, crustacean, and fish to the characterization of epigenetic mechanisms in mollusks (the Pacific oyster, Crassostrea gigas). Then, during my first postdoc in Belgium, I tried to establish a link between phenotypic plasticity and epigenetic mechanisms in the self-fertilizing mangrove rivulus fish (Kryptolebias marmoratus). I joined the group here in List in March 2018, to work as a postdoc on epigenetic mechanisms in the threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) in the context of climate change.
I studied biology at the universities of Bremen and Göttingen and did her PhD thesis at the Max-Planck-Institute f. exp. Medizin, Göttingen. She continued studying at Yale University, New Haven and University of South Florida, St. Petersburg. In 1992 she was employed at Wadden Sea Station Sylt focusing on coastal biota and Wadden Sea ecosystems. Since 2009 she is involved in a rapid assessment survey of introduced marine species (neobiota) in German coastal waters at Alfred-Wegener-Institute.
Tobias studied Geography with the study focus ‘Ecology and Environmental Science’ at the University of Bonn and at Monash University, Melbourne. After his studies he had worked for the Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde before he went to the Wadden Sea Station Sylt of the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) in 2004. He did his PhD on the analysis of morphodynamics and habitat changes in the Wadden Sea and obtained his degree in Physical Geography in 2008. Tobias works in coastal ecology and focuses on the current status and long-term development of intertidal seagrass beds. Since 2011 he is also teaching at the Department of Geography of the University of Kiel.
Annika Cornelius (PhD student)
The increasing number of non-native species (Neozoa) in the Wadden Sea and the mostly unknown effects of successful establishment in the ecosystem are the basis for my research. I deal with the effects of the successful establishment of two pacific crabs, Hemigrapsus takanoi and Hemigrapsus sanguineus in the Wadden Sea. My PhD project is intended to provide a detailed picture of the ecological consequences of the invasion of Hemigrapsusspp. for the ecosystem. For this I will consider both direct and indirect effects between introduced and native organisms.
Sylvia Wanzenböck (Masters student)
Sylvia´s Masters project is about assortative mating by lateral plate morph in three-spined stickleback, and implications for the maintenance of polymorphism at the Eda gene in a warming ocean.
Lukas Fuxjäger (Masters student)
Lukas´ Masters project is about the adaptive significance of transgenerational plasticity in the wild, using three-spined stickleback as a model system.
Kaibil Escobar Wolf
Master of the Beasts
Kaibil is a creative engineer of experimental setups and a dedicated fish keeper and his biggest pleasure is to set unused animals free.
Eike Petersen (BTA)
Eike has been working as a technical assistant in the community and evolutionary ecology team since January 2017. She is a wizard in the molecular lab and also enjoys mucking about in the Watt. She is always happy to help students with their research on the tidal flats.
I joined the group as a technical assistant in Jan. 2018. My main tasks are animal care of threespine stickleback, and experimental support within the project "Coping with climate change via epigenetics".