Project groups


Calanoid copepods play a key role in the marine food web, as they are a main food source for many commercially exploited fish. As they are also the most important phytoplankton grazers, they transfer energy from primary production to higher trophic levels. Any change in the copepod community will therefore influence the entire marine food web. Recent biogeographic studies on climate-induced changes in marine ecosystems show that changes in water temperature will influence the distribution of marine copepod species. The most recent temperature increase of 1.5°C over the last centuries has already led to a reorganisation of the biodiversity of calanoid copepods in the North Atlantic.

This project aims to elucidate the potential consequences of changes in the physical environment on the life cycle and population dynamics of key copepod species. Experiments are performed in situ on board research vessels and with laboratory-reared cultures. This investigation will shed light on the question, of whether copepods from the Baltic and North Sea are able to adapt to changes in their environment and whether they will maintain a population, migrate or become extinct. Additional experiments with geographically separated populations from different ecosystems will show, whether an intra-specific variability in the potential to adapt to stressors is caused by phenotypic plasticity or genetic variability.

This project will increase our understanding of the consequences of climate change for the copepod community. The findings, this project will provide valuable information for a realistic prediction of the dynamics of key species in ecosystem modelling.