Dr. Christian Pansch

Research Devision: Marine Ecology
Experimental Ecology - Benthic Ecology

Room: HB-204
Phone: +49 431 600-1599
E-Mail: cpansch(at)

Düsternbrooker Weg 20
D-24105 Kiel

Links: ResearchgateLinkedIn

I am a research scientist within the Marine Ecology Department at GEOMAR, Kiel.

The most innovative aspect of my research is the breaking down of climate change questions to ecologically relevant scales and studying them at exceptionally high resolution. My main goal is the characterisation of micro- (diurnal pH and temperature) to macroscale (e.g. marine summer heat waves) habitat fluctuations and the response of organisms to this natural variability as well as the extent to which these habitat fluctuations influence future climate change impacts.

Current research interests: Climate change and human activities are having pervasive and lasting effects on shallow marine coastal ecosystems. Hypoxic zones are spreading and seawater temperatures, salinity and eutrophication as well as CO2 levels are shifting at rates that are 10-100 times faster than at any point in the last 50 million years, with corresponding effects on biological and ecological processes. Observed responses to these environmental stressors are, however, highly variable among and within species and mechanisms underlying these responses are only beginning to be understood. In most coastal habitats seasonal fluctuations occur naturally and go along with short-term and small-scale shifts, a research field almost entirely lacking observations and experimental data. Acclimation (i.e. phenotypic plasticity), and adaptation (i.e. intraspecific genetic diversity) are key traits that will influence resilience of organisms to environmental stress and hence the extent of future ecosystem changes. Past research may have missed important aspects by focussing on simple and static systems, single populations and single ontogenetic stages. Zooming in from the scale of entire bays (10s of km) to algal blade surfaces (sub-mm), I will quantify different dimensions of natural habitat fluctuations and investigate the potential for different ontogenetic stages of marine benthic organisms, to acclimate and to adapt to near-future shifts.

PhD and Postdocs: I have finished my PhD on “Stress ecology in times of global change - single and combined effects of ocean acidification, temperature and food availability on different life stages of the barnacle Amphibalanus improvisus” at Kiel University / GEOMAR Kiel in summer 2012. I was granted a one-year Postdoc fellowship by The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences to work as a postdoc at The Sven Lovén Centre for Marine Sciences - Tjärnö from November 2012. The following year, I worked as a Postdoc within the European FP7 Project LEAF - Low Emission AntiFouling ( at Gothenburg University, Sweden.

Previous investigations: During the past years, I evaluated - in collaboration with other projects and researchers - a diverse set of dominant invertebrate species within the western Baltic Sea (Amphibalanus improvisus, Asterias rubens, Carcinus maenas, Mytilus edulis, Cerastoderma edule) and their responses to diverse sets of environmental stressors such as ocean acidification, ocean warming, salinity shifts and food availability. My Investigations showed that various life-stages of the barnacle species A. improvises from Kiel Fjord (Western Baltic Sea, Germany) tolerate high levels of elevated pCO2 well. Since this habitat is highly variable with respect to carbonate chemistry, I hypothesized that the local population might have evolved characteristics making them more tolerant to future ocean acidification than populations from more stable habitats. In the following I investigated the effects of elevated pCO2 on nauplius larvae as well as on newly settled specimens of local populations of A. improvisus in Kiel and in Tjärnö, Sweden. Nauplius larvae showed a strong tolerance to elevated pCO2, regardless of their origin. While however, juveniles from Kiel showed a strong tolerance to elevated pCO2, juveniles from Tjärnö were strongly impaired by similar stress regimes.

These results give a strong support for the stated hypothesis highlighting an urgent need in investigating small-scale genetic structures in barnacle populations. I will evaluate this research question during my postdoc period in Tjärnö in more detail elucidating the mechanisms underlying these population specific responses. I will furthermore experimentally assess the adaptation potential of A. improvisus to a changing ocean with a main focus on ocean acidification.


Current Group

PhD students

Jahangir Vajed Samiei: Kiel University / GEOMAR on the “The neglected role of environmental fluctuations as modulator of stress and driver of rapid evolution“ (2017-21)

Ola Mohamed Nour: Kiel University / GEOMAR on the “Impact of elevated temperature and different salinities on the brush-clawed shore crab Hemigrapsus takanoi“ (Co-supervision: PhD fellowship of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD, 2016 - 19)

Bachelor and Master students

Moritz Baumeister: Oldenburg University “The impact of fluctuating temperature regimes on the common starfish Asterias rubens“ (main supervisor, Bachelor, 2017)

Fabian Wolf: Kiel University “The neglected role of environmental fluctuations in climate change research - a small-scale community approach“ (main supervisor, Master, 2017)

Laura Hennigs: Oldenburg University “Do fluctuating pH regimes determine growth rates of the barnacle Balanus improvisus, and are these altered within the diffusive boundary layer of the bladder wrack Fucus vesiculosus?“ (main supervisor, Bachelor, 2017)

Mildred Johnson: Kiel University “Determination of the buffering capacity of diffusive boundary layers in an acidifying ocean“ (co-supervisor, Master, 2017)

Laura Schütt: Kiel University “Do fluctuating temperatures affect Clupea harengus eggs and larvae differently than a constant temperature of the same mean?“ (main supervisor, Master, 2016-17)


Experience and Academic Achievements

Since Oct 2014 Helmholtz Fellow at the GEOMAR Kiel, Germany

Nov 2013 - Aug 2014 Postdoc at the Department of Chemistry and Molecular Biology, Gothenburg University, Sweden: EU collaborative project LEAF on „Low Emission AntiFouling coatings based on the novel discovered post settlement penetration triggered antifouling“

Nov 2012 - Oct 2013 Postdoc at the Department of Biological & Environmental Sciences, Gothenburg University, Sweden: Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences fellowship on „Significant steps forward - interactive impacts of climate change on interactions between ecologically important species within the Baltic Sea“ and KVVS fellowship on „Genes to greenhouse gases: adaptation potential of barnacles to ocean acidification“

Jul - Oct 2012 Researcher at the Marine Ecology department at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Germany


2012 Doctor of Science (magna cum laude) Kiel University, Germany
PhD at the GEOMAR Kiel, Germany on „Stress ecology in times of global change – single and combined effects of ocean acidification, temperature and food availability on different life stages of the barnacle Amphibalanus improvisus“ (Apr 2008 - Jul 2012)

2007 Diploma in Biology (very good), Rostock University, Germany
Diploma Thesis within the GAME-Project at the IFM-GEOMAR in Kiel and the Universidad Católica del Norte in Coquimbo, Chile on “The effects of light stress on the capacity of macroalgae to defend themselves against grazing and fouling” (scholarship provided by the STIFTUNG-MERKATOR; Oct 2006 - Nov 2007)


Peer Reviewed Publications

Christian Pansch, Giannina SI Hattich, Mara Heinrichs, Andreas Pansch, Zuzanna Zagrodzka, Jonathan Havenhand (2018) Long-term ocean acidification disrupts reproduction in barnacles. PlosONE 13(2): e0192036 (DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0192036)

Christian Pansch, Per Jonsson, Mattias Berglin, Emiliano Pinori, Hans Elwing, Anna-Lisa Wrange (2017) Lab-based all year round anti-fouling bioassay to screen for pre- and post- settlement biocide activity against barnacles. Biofouling 33: 613-623 (DOI: 10.1080/08927014.2017.1349897)

Martin Wahl, Sabrina Schneider, Vincent Saderne, Claas Hiebenthal, Jens D. Müller, Christian Pansch, Yvonne Sawall (2017) Macroalgae may mitigate ocean acidification effects on mussel calcification by increasing pH and its fluctuations. Limnology and Oceanography (DOI: 10.1002/lno.10608)

Ali Nasrolahi, Jonathan N Havenhand, Anna-Lisa Wrange, Christian Pansch (2016) Population and life-stage specific sensitivities to temperature and salinity stress in barnacles? Nature - Scientific Reports 6:32263 (DOI: 10.1038/srep32263)

Yasmin S Appelhans, Jörn Thomsen, Sebastian Opitz, Christian Pansch, Frank Melzner, Martin Wahl (2014) Juvenile sea stars exposed to acidification decrease feeding and growth with no acclimation potential. Marine Ecology-Progress Series 509:227-239 (DOI: 10.3354/meps10884)

Christian Pansch, Iris Schaub, Jonathan N Havenhand, Martin Wahl (2014) Habitat traits and food availability determine the response of marine invertebrates to ocean acidification. Global Change Biology 20:765-777 (DOI: 10.1111/gcb.12478)

Christian Pansch, Ali Nasrolahi, Yasmin S Appelhans, Martin Wahl (2013) Tolerance of juvenile barnacles (Amphibalanus improvisus) to warming and elevated pCO2. Marine Biology (Special Issue on Ocean Acidification) 160:2023-2035 (DOI: 10.1007/s00227-012-2069-4)

Christian Pansch, Peter Schlegel, Jonathan N Havenhand (2013) Larval development of the barnacle Amphibalanus improvisus responds variably but robustly to near-future ocean acidification. ICES Journal of Marine Science 70:805-811 (DOI: 10.1093/icesjms/fst092)

Ali Nasrolahi, Christian Pansch, Mark Lenz, Martin Wahl (2012) Temperature and salinity interactively impact early juvenile development - a bottleneck in barnacle ontogeny. Marine Biology 160:1109-1117 (DOI 10.1007/s00227-012-2162-8)

Jörn Thomsen, Isabel Casties, Christian Pansch, Arne Körtzinger, Frank Melzner (2013) Food availability outweighs ocean acidification effects in juvenile Mytilus edulis: laboratory and field experiments. Global Change Biology 19:1017-1027 (DOI: 10.1111/gcb.12109)

Christian Pansch, Ali Nasrolahi, Yasmin S Appelhans, Martin Wahl (2012) Impacts of ocean warming and acidification on the larval development of the barnacle Amphibalanus improvisusJournal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 420:48-55 (DOI: 10.1016/j.jembe.2012.03.023)

Ali Nasrolahi, Christian Pansch, Mark Lenz, Martin Wahl (2012) Being young in a changing world: how temperature and salinity changes interactively modify the performance of larval stages of the barnacle Amphibalanus improvisusMarine Biology 159:331-340 (DOI: 10.1007/s00227-011-1811-7)

Yasmin S Appelhans, Jörn Thomsen, Christian Pansch, Frank Melzner, Martin Wahl (2012) Sour times: seawater acidification effects on growth, feeding behaviour and acid-base status of Asterias rubens and Carcinus maenasMarine Ecology-Progress Series 459:85-98 (DOI: 10.3354/meps09697)

Christian Pansch, Osvaldo Cerda, Mark Lenz, Martin Wahl, Martin Thiel (2009) Consequences of light reduction for anti-herbivore defense and bioactivity against mussels in four seaweed species from northern-central Chile. Marine Ecology-Progress Series 381:83-97 (DOI: 10.3354/meps07943)

Christian Pansch, Ivan Gómez, Eva Rothäusler, Karina Veliz, Martin Thiel (2008) Species-specific defense strategies of vegetative versus reproductive blades of the Pacific kelps Lessonia nigrescens and Macrocystis integrifoliaMarine Biology 155:51-62 (DOI: 10.1007/s00227-008-1006-z)


Presentations at Conferences

Christian Pansch et al. Heat waves and their significance for Baltic Sea benthic communities – a large scale experimental approach. Oral Presentation: at the 11th International Temperate Reefs Symposium, Pisa, Italy 2016 

Christian Pansch Multiple stressors ... at realistic settings. Oral Presentation: at the „Workshop - Multiple stressors and marine biota“ Hobart, Tasmania, Australia 2016 

Christian Pansch et al. The neglected role of environmental fluctuations and its implications for ocean acidification research. Oral Presentation: 4th International Symposium on the Ocean in a High-CO2 World, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia 2016 

Christian Pansch et al. Long-term acclimation potential of a marine invertebrate to future ocean acidification. Oral Presentation: 2015 Aquatic Sciences Meeting, Granada, Spain 2015 

Christian Pansch et al. Amphibalanus improvisus facing climate change – multiple stressors, life-stages and populations. Oral presentation: 17th ICMCF Satellite Symposium - 2nd International Symposium “Current Topics on Barnacle Biology” 

Christian Pansch et al. Lab-based all year round anti-fouling bioassay to screen for pre- and post-settlement biocide activity against barnacles. Poster presentation: session on “New Methods for Evaluation of Antifouling and Biocorrosion” at the 17th International Congress on Marine Corrosion and Fouling 2014, Singapore 

Christian Pansch et al. The potential of a marine invertebrate top adapt to future ocean acidification. Oral Presentation: 2014 Ocean Sciences Meeting, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA, 2014 (and organizer of the session 100 „Environmental variability and climate change: linking environmental variation and organism responses across scales“ by Christian Pansch et al.) 

Christian Pansch et al. Barnacles’ response to ocean acidification and other stressors. Oral presentation: Third International Symposium on the Ocean in a High CO2 World in Monterey, California, USA, 2012 

Christian Pansch et al. Can barnacles adapt to future ocean acidification? Poster: 2012 Ocean Sciences Meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, 2012 

Christian Pansch et al. Pre-selection in marginal habitats - various life stages of Amphibalanus improvisus show an overall strong tolerance towards ocean acidification. Oral presentation: 40th Benthic Ecology Meeting in Mobile, Alabama, USA, 2011 

Christian Pansch & Martin Wahl. Possible preadaptation leads to a strong stress tolerance of the barnacle Amphibalanus improvisus towards ocean acidification. Oral presentation: 45th European Marine Biology Symposium in Edinburgh, UK, 2010 

Christian Pansch et al. Ocean acidification and warming: consequences for various life stages of the barnacle Amphibalanus improvisus. Poster: 44th European Marine Biology Symposium in Liverpool, UK, 2009 

Christian Pansch et al. Species-specific defense strategies of vegetative vs. reproductive blades of the kelps Lessonia nigrescens and Macrocystis integrifolia. Poster: 43rd European Marine Biology Symposium in Ponta Delgada, Azores, Portugal, 2008 

Mara E Heinrichs, GSI. Hattich, Jonathan N Havenhand, Christian Pansch Long-term acclimation of a sensitive barnacle population towards ocean acidification. Poster: 50th European Marine Biology Symposium on Helgoland, Germany, 2015


Supervising activities

Patrick Blaß, Kiel University “Einfluss von Temperaturschwankung auf Herzraten, Filtration und Wachstum der Miesmuschel (Mytilus edulis, Linné 1758)“ (main supervisor, Master, 2016)

Shula Cowley, Portsmouth University, UK “Antifouling properties of a Low Emission Antifouling paint - laboratory and field studies“ (main supervisor - internship, co-supervisor - Bachelor, 2014)

Anothai Ekelund, Gothenburg University, Sweden: “CO2 induced stoichiometric mismatch between barnacle larvae and their diatom food“ (main supervisor, Bachelor, 2014)

Kristian Meijerbom, Gothenburg University: “CO2 induced shifts in Zostera marina infection by its parasite Labyrinthula zosterae“ (co-supervisor, Bachelor, 2014)

Amandine Vuylsteke, Gothenburg University: “Predatory avoidance in shark embryos under ocean acidification“ (co-supervisor, Master, 2014)

Iris Schaub, Rostock University: “Der wechselseitige Einfluss von Ozeanversauerung und Nahrungsbedingungen auf die Seepocke Amphibalanus improvisus“ (main supervisor, Diploma, 2012)

Ana L S Lopes, Kiel University: “Does future ocean acidification affect respiration rates and development of Amphibalanus improvisus larvae?“ (main supervisor, Bachelor, 2011)

Sebastian Opitz, Kiel University: “Vergleichende Untersuchungen über den Einfluss von erhöhtem Seewasser pCO2 auf den gemeinen Seestern Asterias rubens L.“ (co-supervisor, Staatsexamen, 2011)

Supervision of student internships: Laura Hennigs Oldenburg University (Sep-Nov 2016); Sarah Breimann, Aberdeen University (Feb-Sep 2016); Lena Soumpasus, Kiel University (summer 2016), Moritz Ehrlich, Jennifer Schulze, Kiel University (summer 2015); Jenny Tamm, Potsdam University (Jul-Aug 2015); Ulrike Jäger, Berlin University (Mar-May 2015); Mara Heinrichs, Oldenburg University (ERASMUS, May-Jul 2014); Giannina S I Hattich, Kiel University (ERASMUS, Jul-Sep 2013)



Prof. Harald Asmus, Biosciences, Coastal Ecology, Alfred Wegener Institute, List-Sylt, Germany

Dr. Matthias Berglin, SP - Technical Research Institute of Sweden, Borås, Schweden

Dr. Ivan Gómez, Instituto de Biología Marina, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Austral de Chile, Valdivia, Chile

Prof. Hans-Björne Elwing, Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

Prof. Jon Havenhand, Dept Marine Ecology, Göteborg University, The Sven Lovén Centre for Marine Sciences - Tjärnö, Strömstad, Sweden ...

Prof. Per Jonsson, Dept Marine Ecology, Göteborg University, The Sven Lovén Centre for Marine Sciences - Tjärnö, Strömstad, Sweden ...

Dr. Emiliano Pinori, SP - Technical Research Institute of Sweden, Borås, Schweden

Prof. Martin Thiel, Departamento de Biología Marina, Facultad de Ciencias del Mar, Universidad Católica del Norte, Larrondo 1281, Coquimbo, Chile (Center of Advanced Studies in Arid Systems, CEAZA, Coquimbo, Chile) ...


Other Publications

Christian Pansch and Martin Wahl: Movie „Die Kieler Benthokosmen“ (Mai 2017)

Lennart T. Bach, Jan Taucher, Tim Boxhammer, Andrea Ludwig, The Kristineberg KOSMOS Consortium, Eric P. Achterberg, María Algueró-Muñiz, Leif G. Anderson, Jessica Bellworthy, Jan Büdenbender, Jan Czerny, Ylva Ericson, Mario Esposito, Matthias Fischer, Mathias Haunost, Dana Hellemann, Henriette G. Horn, Thomas Hornick, Jana Meyer, Michael Sswat, Maren Zark, Ulf Riebesell (2016) Influence of Ocean Acidification on a Natural Winter-to-Summer Plankton Succession: First Insights from a Long-Term Mesocosm Study Draw Attention to Periods of Low Nutrient Concentrations. Member of „The Kristineberg KOSMOS Consortium“.

Christian Pansch (2015) Photograph in: Faszination Wissenschaft 2016: Visions and Images of Fascination, Weekcalender, 56 pages, 24 x 32 cm, ISBN 978-3-7995-0677-9,, 1. Auflage 2015

Christian Pansch (2012) Stress ecology in times of global change - single and combined effects of ocean acidification, temperature and food availability on different life stages of the barnacle Amphibalanus improvisus (PhD at GEOMAR Kiel, Germany“)

Yasmin S Appelhans, Jörn Thomsen, Christian Pansch, Frank Melzner, Martin Wahl (2010) Versauerung der Meere. Meer und Küste - Unsere Ostsee Ausgabe Nr. 2 / 2010 (ISBN 978-3-9811839-8-6, ISSN 2190-5754)

Christian Pansch (2007) Defense responses to grazing and fouling in 4 different seaweed species from the northern-central coast of Chile (Diploma thesis at Rostock University)