Our research

The iSeal project is divided into 7 work packages (WPs), which complement and build on each other. The contents of each work package are briefly explained below. 


Impact of multiple stressors on biodiversity, functionality and ecological status 

This work package investigates and assesses the impacts of climate change and fisheries on biodiversity and ecological state in the two “living labs”, the Wadden Sea national parks in Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony. To investigate possible links between changes in the ecosystem and various pressures and their magnitude, long-term and monitoring data will be analysed. Based on these results, threshold values for the status assessment will be (further) developed. 


Detecting and assessing the impact of invasive species on natural and artificial mussel beds 

This work package deals with the detection of invasive species using genetic methods in the Wadden Sea of Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony. In addition, the influence of these species on natural and artificial mussel beds will be investigated. Keystone species is the native blue mussel (Mytilus edulis). 

Mesocosm experiments 

Using large tanks, so-called mesocosms, the influence of climate change and invasive species on intertidal blue mussel bed communities is studied. In a first experiment, the water temperature is gradually increased. In the second experiment, the combined effects of the invasive Pacific oyster (Magallana gigas) and increasing watertemperatures on the blue mussel bed communities are examined in detail. 

Food web modelling using Ecological Network Analysis (ENA)

By using the Ecological Network Analysis (ENA) approach, the direct and indirect trophic interactions between living and non-living components in an ecosystem can be investigated (meaning: who eats whom and what rate?). Using long-term data and the data gathered in work packages 1 to 3 food web models will be created for the Wadden Sea in Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony to analyse the influence of e.g. climate change and fisheries on food web structure and functioning. 

Transdisciplinary integration of Social and Ecological Network Analysis 

To illustrate the interactions of the various actors, stakeholders and user groups a social network analysis (SNA) will be conducted. Secondly, this SNA will be coupled with the ENA in order to investigate possible applications of the socio-ecological network analysis (SENA) for the management of both National Parks. The aim of this coupling is to familiarise involved parties with ENA and its possible use. 

Transfer and recommendations for management

Research results will be discussed and evaluated together with participating stakeholders and user groups. The diverse memberships of the iSeal project participants in national, trilateral and international working and expert groups ensures the transfer of these results as well as their application in nature conservation practice. Together with science and stakeholders, recommendations for management will be developed to preserve the good environmental status of coastal ecosystems. 

Data management

The data collected in the project is managed centrally according to the Open Access and FAIR principles. FAIR means that the data should be findable, accessible, interoperable and re-usable. 

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".