Ecological long-term research at Helgoland

Ecological, physical and chemical time series are an essential tool for the study of climate-related topcis. They can document long-term changes in the environment and also serve as background data for experimental studies. Helgoland has a long tradition in ecological time series research and the scientists of the Biological Station Helgoland produce a number of extremely valuable time series that have been used for scientific research by scientists around the world. The core time series are known as Helgoland Roads and comprise phytoplankton and zooplankton as well as physico-chemical parameters. But several shorter timeseries and spatio-temperal datasets also exist and Helgoland scientists are jointly setting standards by linking these data through detailed documentation , quality control and data management to facilitate detailed analyses long-term ecological change and their societal consequences.

The most important Helgoland Roads time series are described below.

Helgoland Roads forms an important component of the overall pool of the AWIs time series which comprises 30 individual time series resourcees ranging from physical and chemical time series via periglacial to a range of biodiversity data sets (see LTO@AWI)

The Biologische Anstalt Helgoland has a long tradition in the generation, archival and analysis of ecological time series. The first temperature and salinity data sets were measured in 1873. The first macroalgal data sets were also generated in the 19th century.

In 1962 one of the most important Helgoland time series, the Helgoland Roads phytoplankton time series was initiated. Helgoland Roads samples are analyzed on a work-daily basis making Helgoland Roads not only one of the longest, but also one of the temporally most highly resolved time series in Europe. Since 1974 zooplankton has also been analyzed three times a week. In addition, a 40 year bacterial time series is also available

The rocky shore is not investigated quite so regularly but several deatailed biodiversity assessments have been made. The fact that our rocky shore is the only one in Germany makes these data sets all the more valuable.

The team

Karen Wiltshire: Group leader

Alexandra Kraberg: Phytoplanktonand QA

Mirco Scharfe: Hydrography and QA

Kristine Carstens: Nutrient/chlorophyll Analysis and data delivery

Silvia Peters: Phytoplankton analyst and data delivery




Since 1962 phytoplankton samples have been counted using the Uthermöhl method.                                                                             


Zooplankton is analyzed three times weekly.                                                                                                                             


Nutrients (posphate, nitrate, nitrite, ammonium) have been measured since 1962, silicate since 1967


Daily temperature and salinity data are available since 1962 plus some data beginning in 1873