Biodiversity and Marine Research
The core research area Biodiversity and Marine Research originates in the integration of expertise in organisms and environmental research within both the Department of Biology and Environmental Sciences and the Department of Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment. The first contributes mainly to the issues of physiological, sensory, and genetic adaptations of organisms to their environment, whereas the latter has its focus on interdisciplinary environmental research with issues like marine element cycles and energy flow in water and sediments as well as at the sediment – water column interface, and the functional role of marine biodiversity. These issues are embedded in the research landscape of north-western Germany by cooperation with groups at the University of Bremen and a number of research institutes or facilities in the surroundings of Oldenburg that contribute expertise in the area of biodiversity research, ecology, bird migration, and evolutionary biology. These institutes comprise for example the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology (MPI-MM, Bremen), the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar und Marine Research (AWI, Bremerhaven), the Institute “Senckenberg am Meer” (SaM Wilhelmshaven), the Leibniz Centre for Marine Tropical Ecology (ZMT, Bremen), and the Institute for Ornithology „Vogelwarte Helgoland“ (IfV, Wilhelmshaven). This core area is the largest in the faculty regarding the number of assigned professorships. To date we can differentiate between two subdivisions:
- Subdivision A: Biodiversity and Evolution
- Subdivision B: Marine Research
A scientific goal of this core area is to study biodiversity on different organisational levels, starting with the adaptability of organisms and their genetic basis, proceeding to the analysis of interaction between species and finally ending at the functional role of biodiversity in ecosystems. Groups in the Institute of Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment (ICBM) and in the Institute of Biology and Environmental Research contribute to this area. By means of empirical and theoretical approaches the scientists study evolutionary and ecological processes that steer the actual patterns of terrestrial and marine biodiversity and their dynamics. A main focus lays on the dynamics of biodiversity in these days with rapid global change and the consequences of this change for ecosystem processes in ecosystems.
In the course of application for a Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (CiBAS) in the framework of a call by the DFG (German Research Foundation) (Koordination: Hillebrand, ICBM) in 2010/2011 this research area has developed even further and gained a unique profile. The appraisal of the referees shed light to the extraordinary quality of biodiversity research in Oldenburg and recommended a further development in this area at our location. A one of the results of this activity research groups from the ICBM, IBU and colleagues from the University of Göttingen conceived a research project, that addresses biodiversity in a terrestrial-marine gradient (funding started in November 2013 by the Ministry of Science and Education in Lower Saxony). An application for a postgraduate qualification programme "Interdisciplinary approach to functional biodiversity research" was submitted in June 2013 at the same Ministry. We further plan to establish a Centre for Functional Marine Biodiversity in cooperation with ICBM and the Alfred-Wegener-Institute (AWI) Bremerhaven at the site Wechloy. The IBU will strengthen the evolutionary and ecological aspects of biodiversity by two additional professorships (Ecological Genomics, Evolutionary Genetics of Plants). The ICBM is currently developing this research area by a joint professorship with AWI (Biodiversity and Biological Processes in Polar Oceans) and by a second joint professorship with Senckenberg “Benthosecology”.
The central research topics of the ICBM are biodiversity within the framework of trophic webs, the marine bacteria group Roseobacter, and the study of the composition of organic compounds in the ocean. Within the SFB TR 51 scientists based in Oldenburg, Braunschweig and Göttingen study one of the most important group of marine bacteria under the title “Ecology, Physiology, and Molecular Biology of the Roseobacter group: starting point towards a system biological understanding of a globally important group of marine Bacteria”. Marine research is considerably strengthened by theoretical groups that deal with modelling of biodiversity, bioinvasion, plankton dynamics, ecosystem stability, aggregation and sea currents. In addition to that significant support is provided by two Max-Planck research groups led by K. Pahnke and T. Dittmar (the latter is continued since September 2013 as Max-Planck-Bridge-Professorship) as well as by cooperative professorships with HZG (Helmholtz Centre Geesthacht), AWI (Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research) Bremerhaven and SaM (Senckenberg am Meer, German Centre for Marine Biodiversity Research) Wilhelmshaven. Both professorships Marine Measurement Technology (O. Zielinski) and Biosensors (N.N.) strengthen the technological aspect in marine research and bridge the gap to applied marine research and to Jade-Hochschule (Technical University) in Wilhelmshaven. Coastal zones and shallow seas remain an important research area in the future. Marine research in Oldenburg has established a unique position on the national and international community in particular by the system approach to understand the wadden sea, that serves as a model region for other coastal zones. Further national and international projects in that marine research in Oldenburg is involved are Bioacid II, the Jena Experiment, the virtual Helmholtz-Institut Polar Time, and the Scientific Monitoring Concept for the German Bight (WIMO). The group “Hydrogeology” (G. Massmann, IBU) collaborates closely with the geochemical groups in the ICBM, in that way forming a research network beyond the department.