Historical collections of marine organisms – a window into the beginnings of Global Change in the North and Baltic Seas

The goal of this interdisciplinary project is to investigate faunal changes of North and Baltic Sea since the 19th century. The scientifically particularly important marine invertebrate collections of the Zoological Museum at the Christian-Albrechts-University (CAU) Kiel form the basis for these investigations, in combination with the collections of the Senckenberg Research Institute Frankfurt and the collections of the members of the NORe-association e.V.. The project aims to reconstruct shifts in species distribution, invasion as well as extinction processes in light of climate change and globalization. For selected epibenthic taxa, temporal changes in morphology (CT, MRT) and population genetics will be further elucidated with non-invasive imaging techniques and ancient DNA methods. A central question of this aspect of the project is whether Baltic Sea populations have diverged from North Sea populations, or adapted to a warmer and more brackish environment in comparison to their original range. The collections will be documented in a new digital portal based on Senckenberg’s collection management program AQUiLA.

This interdisciplinary approach combining thorough collection documentation and innovative analytical methods provides a worldwide unique data basis, which documents the historical changes of marine ecosystems due to natural and anthropogenic factors.

This project is supported by the BMBF as part of the initiative “Vernetzen – Erschließen – Erforschen. Allianz für universitäre Sammlungen”.

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