Arctic Zooplankton

Calanoid copepodes: major players in ecosystem processes

Calanoid copepods are distributed world-wide and contribute up to 80% of the zooplankton biomass in polar areas. They are a major link between primary production and higher trophic levels and, thus, have a key role in the trophic structure of pelagic communities. Copepods also contribute to biogeochemical cycles by producing faecal pellets, which sink to deeper waters. Associated with global warming, the inflow of Atlantic water into the Arctic increases, and this may lead to a shift in the dominant species which may have severe consequences for the Arctic food web.

Working group leader:
P.D. Dr. Barbara Niehoff

Research topics

Adaptation to changing environmental conditions

Life history traits of zooplankton organisms are dependent on environmental conditions and as such strongly effected by rising temperatures and shifts in food regimes. We study physiological responses of dominant species to climate chance to predict their role in the future Arctic Ocean.


Feeding biology and trophic interactions of key species

Who feeds who“ is one of the major factors structuring communities. We focus on the feeding strategies of the dominating zooplankton species and their interactions with other components of the pelagic food web, especially algal and micro-zooplankton.


Biodiversity and distribution

Using both, traditional net sampling and the newly developed LOKI – an optical plankton recorder, we study the zooplankton abundance and community composition in Arctic waters to enhance our understanding of colonisation and expatriation processes.


BioAcid II: Biological Impacts of Ocean Acidification (

Cleopatra: Climate effects on planktonic food quality and trophic transfer in Arctic Marginal Ice Zones: (

Transdrift: The transpolar system of the Arctic Ocean: (

Fram: Frontiers in Arctic Monitoring 

Members of the working group

PD. Dr. Barbara Niehoff (head)
Dr. Nicole Hildebrandt, Postdoc



Dr. Daniela Freese  

M.Sc. Henrieke Tonkes

Dr. Rita Melo Franco Santos

M. Sc. Benjamin Meyer