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Helmholtz Institute Oldenburg

The Helmholtz Institute for Functional marine Biodiversity at the University of Oldenburg (HIFMB) researches marine biodiversity and its function for humans and the environment.

The institute’s researchers contribute to the scientific understanding underpinning marine conservation and ecosystem management through research on how marine biodiversity is changing and what influence this change has on the function of marine ecosystems.
The HIFMB was founded in 2017 and is a joint research institute of the Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg and the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research.

Oceans are not only the largest habitat on earth - due to their depth, oceans make up more than 90 percent of the total habitat – but also harbor the greatest diversity of life forms. Marine life regulates the climate, binds CO2 and is an important food source for humans. The oxygen in every second breath we take originates from the ocean.

To continue providing these ecosystem functions, which are also important for humans, oceans require intact habitats. Habitats, in turn, depend on marine biodiversity: the diversity of species, genetic variants of each species and diversity of ecosystems.

Biological diversity is reacting to global warming and human-induced influences but the strength and form of its reactions are still largely unclear today. We do know, however, that marine ecosystems are changing – especially through human influence.

Oceans are becoming warmer and more acidic, while at the same time coastal areas are being increasingly populated and altered, and waters are being polluted by plastics and nutrients.

What do these changes mean for the oceans and what measures can we take to counter them?

Marine biodiversity is complex. As a result, our efforts to study it and to develop conservation concepts are complex undertakings that require interdisciplinary cooperation. Therefore, natural science research at HIFMB goes hand in hand with social science analysis of social and political processes. The scientific members of HIFMB based at the University and AWI are complemented by four HIFMB working groups focusing on biodiversity theory, marine governance, marine conservation and ecosystem data science. In addition, there are numerous young scientists from various disciplines, for example biology, mathematics and geography.

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Dr. Cathrin Brüchmann

Chief Research Manager Earth and Environment
Helmholtz Association

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