iSeal News


The aim of our project is to produce results, which can directly be applied in nature conservation. Here, we do not only want to show you our latest results, but also give you an insight into our everyday research (and of course also the highlights). 


New working group at ICES  

New working group at ICES
The “Working Group for Ecosystem-based Fisheries Management in the Western Baltic Sea” (WGECOBAL) aims to better understand the impact of the environment and in particular climate on the living marine resources of the Western Baltic Sea, in order to supporting stock assessments and ecosystem-based recommendations for fish stocks. It will improve the assessment, advice and management of fish stocks in the western Baltic Sea. This is urgently needed, as the once most important commercial species cod and herring have collapsed. The aim is to develop and discuss possible future prospects for the ecosystem of the western Baltic Sea, its fish community and the fisheries that depend on it. The results will be passed on to the relevant decision-makers as part of WGECOBAL's work.

For iSeal, Dr. Marco Scotti (GEOMAR) is involved in the work of WGECOBAL, which brings together the expertise of more than 30 researchers from Denmark, Sweden and Germany. Dr. Scotti ensures the direct exchange between the SpaCeParti and iSeal projects with regard to ecosystem-based management of the North and Baltic Seas.

Find out more here: WGECOBAL (

© Caroline Grünhagen, CeOS 


Kick-off workshop of the sustainMare “Monitoring & Assessment” working group 

From February 27th - 28th, 2024, the first workshop of the newly founded sustainMare working group on “Monitoring & Assessment” took place at Senckenberg am Meer in Wilhelmshaven. Under the leadership of Prof. Dr. Pedro Martinez Arbizu (Senckenberg am Meer) and Dr. Ulrike Schückel (Landesbetrieb für Küstenschutz, Nationalpark und Meeresschutz Schleswig-Holstein), both from iSeal, approximately 30 scientists from the different sustainMare projects, consultants and stakeholders attended the workshop. Main topics of discussion were requirements of the Marine Strategy Framework Directives (MSFD), missing indicators and gaps in regulatory monitoring programmes. Break out groups and plenary sessions addressed the necessary dialogue between stakeholders, user groups and scientists.

© Viola Siegler, SENCKENBERG am Meer


BLANO dialogue forum on marine protection 

On 14.12.2023, Dr Ulrike Schückel, Prof. Dr. Pedro Martinez Arbizu and Dr Claudia Günther participated in the BLANO Marine Conservation Dialogue Forum in Hamburg. The dialogue forum focused on the status of implementation of the MSFD-measures, monitoring and measurement programmes in the North and Baltic Sea and the current MSFD environmental status assessment 2024. Dr. Ulrike Schückel moderated the discussion group "How can we achieve a better monitoring of the marine environment?" together with Annika Grage from the BSH and introduced the new sustainMare expert group "Monitoring and Assessment" in a short presentation. 

©  Geschäftsstelle Meeresschutz 


Benthos monitoring with SENCKENBERG

From 04.10. to 13.10. Dr. Ulrike Schückel and Carsten Pauls (both LKN SH) went on a trip with the research vessel SENCKENBERG for iSeal. The aim of the trip was to examine the benthic and pelagic underwater world at established measuring stations in the Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park. Five devices have been used during the trip: CTD, Van Veen grab, multicorer, plankton net and a beam trawl. The samples taken will be prepared for stable isotope measurements in the coming weeks and months, while stomach content analyzes of fish will also be collected for the establishment of food web models. A small highlight of the trip was the capture of three lobsters, which will be genetically examined.  


Parliamentary breakfast in Berlin: Between offshore wind, biodiversity and fishing

On 28.09.2023 Dr. Maysa Ito (GEOMAR) and Carsten Pauls (LKN SH) made their way to the Parliamentary Breakfast in Berlin at the invitation of the German Marine Research Alliance (DAM) and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). After the keynote speeches on offshore wind, biodiversity and fisheries by Dr. Andreas Kannen (Helmholtz Center Hereon), Prof. Dr. Helmut Hillebrand (Helmholtz Institute for Functional Marine Biodiversity at the Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg) and Dr. Ralf Döring (Institute for Sea Fisheries at the Johann Heinrich von Thünen Institute) the focus was the joint dialogue: scientists, stakeholders and members of the DAM research mission sustainMare took the opportunity to discuss developments and future challenges in the areas of energy, marine environment and fisheries policy. 

 © Anke Beim


Food web pilot study published in OSPAR Quality Status Report 2023

The first iSeal results were successfully transferred into marine policy. As part of the OSPAR Quality Status Report 2023, a pilot food web assessment by means of Ecological Network Analysis (ENA) was developed together with France, Sweden, Denmark and Portugal. iSeal has contributed to this pilot study with an analysis of a coastal North Sea food web. By using Ecological Network Analysis (ENA) all direct and indirect interactions in a food web can be analysed. By using model-derived ENA indices, the structure, functioning and ecological status can be assessed.The food web of the coastal North Sea comprises 235 marine species and has been modelled over a period from 2009 to 2019. Due to high pressures on the food web, the ENA indices show that the food web is not in good environmental status. The OSPAR Quality Status Report is produced every 5-7 years and aims to assess the environmental status of the North-East Atlantic against the objectives of the North-East Atlantic Environmental Strategy 2010-2020 (NEAES 2020) and identify actions to achieve the OSPAR´s  vision of a clean, healthy and biologically diverse North-East Atlantic Ocean, which is productive, use sustainably and resilient to climate change and ocean acidification. In addition, the results of the QSR 2023 may be used by EU Member States to support their reporting obligations under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. The pilot assessment is available here: 

 © OSPAR Commission


Summer School in Parma 

From 05.-07. September 2023, Dr. Marco Scotti (GEOMAR), Tim Wiemers (University of Osnabrück) and Carsten Pauls (LKN.SH) joined the summer school at the University of Parma (Italy). Under the motto „Network analysis in ecology: multiple approaches for complex ecological systems”, Dr Scotti, together with Prof. Dr Antonio Bodini and Dr Ferenc Jordan (both University of Parma), gave lectures on the length of trophic chains in pelagic food webs. Tim Wiemers and Carsten Pauls used the summer school as an opportunity to gain further knowledge in the area of ​​ecological network analysis (ENA) and social network analysis (SNA). 


 © Ferenc Jordan


sustainMare Mid-Term-Conference: iSeal wins poster award ! 

From 30.08 to 01.09.2023 the mid-term conference of the research mission "Protection and sustainable use of marine areas - sustainMare" of the German Marine Research Alliance (DAM) took place at the Christian Albrechts University in Kiel. Dr. Ulrike Schückel provided initial insights into applied research methods and presented preliminary scientific findings. The highlight was the Early Career Researcher poster competition won by Dr Léa Joly (left) and Dr Maysa Ito (right). The two young scientists presented the mesocosm experiments of the iSeal project. The experiments were conducted to assess the effects of ocean warming and invasive species on a benthic community in the Wadden Sea. Analyses are conducted at various biological and community levels, from the individual's physiological response to the cascading effect on ecosystem functioning of the ecosystem. 

 © Eva Papaioannou


Presentation at the Nationalparkkuratorien

The EU Action Plan for Marine Protection and Fisheries, benthos in the sublittoral areas of the Nationalprk Schleswig-Holstein and the consultation process for the Baltic Sea National Park were topics during meetings of the Nationalparkkuratorien in Dithmarschen (Heide) held on 20.06.2023 and Nordfriesland (Husum) held on 22.06.2023. Dr Ulrike Schückel gave a presentation about the biodiversity and distribution of benthic communities in the sublittoral of the Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park and introduced the iSeal project. 

 © Ulrike Schückel


at the ASLO Conference 

Dr. Léa Joly presented the first results of the mesocosm experiments at this year's Aquatic Science meetings (ASLO) from 04.06 to 09.06.2023 in Palma de Mallorca (Spain). Entitled "Differences in the resilience of species in a benthic community facing ocean warming“, metabolic and phenological responses of three important benthic species (Mytilus edulis, Macoma balthica and Peringia sp.) in the Wadden Sea were investigated under natural and warming scenarios in a mesocosms experiment. Respiration rates were measured to represent species’ metabolism while the physiological adjustments for the fitness were characterised by growth and body condition index. Mytilus edulis and Peringia sp. appeared to be highly resilient to warming, with a brief acclimation phase. They displayed an increased growth in warmer treatments without consequences for the condition. Conversely, Macoma balthica’s growth was not stimulated by warming and individuals’ condition was negatively affected. These differences in species’ responses are expected to modify the structure of the coastal Wadden Sea ecosystem in the future, possibly increasing the vulnerability to additional stressors such as the introduction of invasive species. 

 © Knut Mehler


Stakeholder Workshop in Wilhelmshaven

Our 2nd Stakeholder Workshop with focus on "invasive species" took place in Wilhelmshaven on 13.06.2023. Dr Diana Giebels and Marcel Paul (University of Osnabrück) presented the results of the social network analysis from more than 40 interviews with stakeholders, authorities, nature conservation associations, diving clubs, science and business. Dr Katja Uhlenkott (Senckenberg am Meer) presented first results from the ecological network analysis and its potential to analyse the impact of invasive species on food web structure and functioning. Together with stakeholders and representatives of diving clubs and consultants, a dynamic (social) network analysis was developed as part of an Early Warning-Fast Response measure. Senckenberg also presented recent scientific findings on molecular methods for the identification of invasive species. In addition, all workshop participants got an insight into the Mesokosmos experiments on Sylt (by Hannah Spira, GEOMAR Kiel). We would like to thank all participants for their dedicated participation and the productive day!

 © Alexandra Möller


Sampling the underwater world

From 30.5.2023 to 08.06.2023, a 10-day field campaign with the research vessel SENCKENBERG took place with the participation of scientists from the iSeal project. The aim was to investigate the benthic and pelagic underwater world in the Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park. For this purpose, the following equipment was used: CTD, Van Veen grab, multicorer, plankton net and a beam trawl. In addition, samples were collected for stable isotope measurements and stomach content analyses of fish to analyse the food web. 

 © Ulrike Schückel


Tidal mud walk with project “iSeal” 

Participation of iSeal in the second Transformation Lab at the Kiel University as part of reSEArch-EU, a project of "SEA-EU: The European University of the Seas". Katja Heubel, Claudia Günther and Ulrike Schückel presented the iSeal project at the Research and Technology Centre, West Coast (FTZ) on 26.04.2023 as a successful example of cooperation and joint research for nature conservation between universities, research institutes and public administration. Afterwards, the delegation of numerous scientists from Brest (France), Gdansk (Poland), Split (Croatia), Malta and Cadiz (Spain) went to the tidal flats to experience this unique habitat and its flora & fauna live. 

 © Tobias Hahn, Uni Kiel


Parliamentary Evening in Hannover 

The German Alliance for the Exploration of the Sea (DAM) hosted its first Lower Saxony Parliamentary Evening on 23th March 2023 in Hannover. To present the project iSeal , we, Achim Wehrmann, Katja Uhlenkott and Pedro Martínez Arbizu from Senckenberg am Meer in Wilhelmshaven were also on site. The evening was dedicated to marine research and started with greetings by representatives of the parliament of Lower Saxony. After presentations by Angela Ittel (TU Braunschweig) and Helmut Hillebrand (HIFMB Oldenburg), as well as a panel discussion on „Conflicts between protection and use of the North Sea“, we could show our research project at the subsequent reception. There, we presented ourselves with a model reflecting the influences of the invasive Pacific Oyster that changed the structure of the original mussle banks in the coastal area extensively due to reef building. Also a real eye catcher were the specimens of alien species such as the dwarf surf clam Mulinia lateralis and native species such as the common cockle Cerastoderma edule, which occupy a similar ecological niche in the Wadden Sea. This way we could finish the evening with interesting conversations in a relaxing atmosphere. 


Sampling the mudflats

This March, the time had come again: a team of several scientists set out into the mudflats once more with the survey ship Oland of the Schleswig-Holstein Agency for Coastal Defence (LKN.SH) to collect further samples on the mussel beds needed for the mesocosm experiments. The samples, containing the mussels as well as all associated organisms and sediment, were then taken to the Wadden Sea station of the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) in List on Sylt. They were then transferred to the mesocosms to conduct the next measurements in the coming weeks. The "iSeal" project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) under the reference 03F0913A. 



Status seminar and stakeholder-Workshop in Wilhelmshaven

On 19 and 20 October 2022, we held this year's status seminar and our first stakeholder workshop at the Senckenberg in Wilhelmshaven. During the seminar, we got an overview of the current status of the respective work packages and discussed first results. During the workshop, we discussed with the invited stakeholders from different institutions how ecological and social network analysis can be well integrated. The main topics were invasive species, indicator development and protected areas. Through the lively exchange, we were able to jointly work out concrete and application-oriented options. 



Wadden Sea Day: Understanding connections between species essential to Wadden Sea’s management

Climate change and other human activities influence the occurrence of species and their structure in the Wadden Sea. Given the importance of the Wadden Sea World Heritage for global diversity, it is vital to study the relationships between species in the food web, to consider them in their entirety and to understand how human activities change these relationships and the functionality of the entire ecosystem. In other words, we need to have a closer look at “Who eats whom” and what consequences this knowledge has for the management of the Wadden Sea World Heritage. This question was at the centre of this year’s Wadden Sea Day, held on 25 August in Wilhelmshaven. 



Ein Team von Wissenschaftler:innen mehrerer beteiligter Institutionen hat sich kürzlich mit dem Vermessungsschiff Oland des Landesbetriebs für Küstenschutz (LKN.SH) auf den Weg in Richtung Pellworm gemacht, um dort auf den Miesmuschelbänken die ersten Proben zu sammeln. Es handelte sich um die erste Feldarbeit im Rahmen des wissenschaftlichen Projektes. Die Muscheln samt aller Organismen, die sich auf diesen befanden, wurden für weitere Untersuchungen zur Wattenmeerstation des Alfred-Wegener-Institut Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung (AWI) in List auf Sylt gebracht. „iSeal“ war Ende März übrigens auch bei einem Parlamentarischen Abend der Deutschen Allianz Meeresforschung (DAM) in Kiel präsent. „iSeal“ wird mit Mitteln des Bundesministeriums für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF) unter dem Kennzeichen 03F0913A gefördert.

Johanna Osterberg  | 01.04.2022 


Einflüsse auf das Küstenökosystem werden erforscht 

Wie wirken sich äußere Einflüsse wie etwa der Klimawandel oder eingewanderte Arten auf das Wattenmeer und die angrenzende Nordsee aus? Dieser Frage geht das wissenschaftliche Projekt „iSeal“ nach, das jetzt in der schleswig-holsteinischen Nationalparkverwaltung gestartet ist. 



Neues Forschungsprojekt

„iSEAL“ – so lautet das Kurzwort für ein Forschungsprojekt, für das vor wenigen Tagen die Bewilligung und Finanzierungszusage aus dem Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF) erfolgt ist. 


The iSeal project is part of the research mission of the German Marine Research Alliance (DAM) focusing on "Protection and sustainable use of marine areas".