Environmental Physiology

The working group 'Environmental Physiology' (Research Division Marine Ecology, Research Unit Benthic Ecology) is interested in marine invertebrate physiology, particularly with respect to phenotypic plasticity and adaptation capacity to a changing climate (ocean acidification, ocean warming, hypoxia). We are particularly curious about how marine calcifiers (molluscs, echinoderms) and plankton are able to maintain acid-base equilibria and how they are able to form biominerals that can withstand great chemical stresses. We are conducting both, field and laboratory experiments and are particularly interested in the natural variability in carbonate system speciation along coastal ecosystems. We collaborate with scientists from the disciplines of geology, ecology, biogeochemistry, marine chemistry, medicine and zoology. The working group is currently funded by the Cluster of Excellence 'Future ocean', the German ocean acidification program BIOACID, the EU FP7 projects ECO2 and CACHE and the collaborative research centre SFB 754.



Our labs and offices are located in Hohenbergstrasse 2, 24105 Kiel.

Contact details: Frank Melzner (+49 431 600 4274, fmelzner(at)geomar.de - parental leave 04-12 2017), Ulrike Panknin (lab management, +49 431 600 4272, upanknin@geomar.de).

Team members

The group, early 2016 (missing: Meike, Etienne). From left to right: Chico, Frank, Loreen (visiting collaborator, Dresden), Jenny, Lara, Rainer, Anna, Ulli, Kirti, Claas, Trystan, Jörn, Marian.
  • PD Dr. Frank Melzner (PI benthic systems & meroplankton); marine invertebrate zoology & environmental physiology, acid base regulation, biomineralization. Publications (google scholar).
  • Dr. Rainer Kiko (PI pelagic systems, SFB 754); influence of zooplankton on biogeochemistry of oxygen minimum zones, zooplankton stress physiology.
  • Ulrike Panknin (MTA); algae cultures, molecular biology, lab manager.
  • M.Res. Kirti Ramesh (PhD student, CACHE); cellular mechanisms of calcification in mussels and oysters.
  • B.Sc. Trystan Sanders (PhD student, CACHE); energetics of shell formation in mussels along environmental gradients.
  • M.Sc. Imke Podbielski (PhD student, Studienstiftung); osmoregulatory limits to life in the brackish Baltic Sea.
  • B.Sc. Alessia Carini (M.Sc. student); evolution of low salinity tolerance in sea stars (supervisors: Kirti Ramesh, Arul Marie (Paris), Frank Melzner).
  • B.Sc. Edel Shanahan (M.Sc. student); tropical shrimp physiology in intensive aquaculture systems.
  • JOINT APPOINTMENTS CAU Kiel & GEOMAR 'Ozean der Zukunft' 
  • Dr. Marian Y. Hu  (Scientist, Future Ocean Postdoctoral Fellow); evolution of digestive systems in marine invertebrates, CAU Kiel & GEOMAR.
  • Dr. Claas Hiebenthal (Scientist); Kiel Marine Organism Culture Centre (KIMOCC), GEOMAR & CAU Kiel.
  • Former members:

    • M.Sc.. Lara Schmittmann (M.Sc. student); now: PhD student GEOMAR (Hentschel-Humeida lab).
    • M.Sc. Etienne Lein (M.Sc. student); now: PhD student MPI Ornithology / collective behaviour, Konstanz.
    • Dr. Meike Stumpp (PhD, Postdoc); now: lecturer, CAU Kiel.
    • Dr. Anne Hüning (Postdoc 2014); now: Scientist / industry.
    • Dr. Agnes Heinemann (PhD student, Dr. rer. nat. 2011); now: Scientist Climactio, Provadis School of International Management and Technology AG.
    • Dr. Katja Trübenbach (Diplom 2009); now: Postdoc, CAU Kiel.
    • Dipl.-Biol. Sandra Fehsenfeld (Diplom 2010); now: Postdoc, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada (Wood - lab).
    • Dr. Julia Saphörster (Diplom 2009); now: product manager Life Science / Enzyme, SERVA.
    • Dipl.-Biol. Isabel Casties (Diplom 2011); now: PhD student, GEOMAR (Briski lab).
    • M.Sc. Corinna Breusing (M.Sc. 2012); now: Postdoc, MBARI, USA (DFG grant).
    • Dipl.-Biol. Skadi Lange (Diplom 2012); now: PhD student, GEOMAR (Treude lab).

Selected publications

  1. Ramesh, K., Hu, M.Y.A., Thomsen, J., Bleich, M., Melzner, F. (accepted). Mussel larvae modify calcifying fluid carbonate chemistry to promote calcification. Nature Communications.
  2. Kiko, R., Biastoch, A., Brandt, P., Cravatte, S., Hauss, H., Hummels, R., Kriest, I., Marin, F., McDonnell, A.M.P., Oschlies, A., Picheral, M., Schwarzkopf, F.U., Thurnherr, A., Stemmann, L. (accepted) Biological and physical influences on marine snowfall at the equator. Nature Geoscience.
  3. Thomsen, J., Stapp, L.S., Haynert, K., Schade, H.Danelli, M., Lannig, G., Wegner, K.M., Melzner, F. (2017). Naturally acidified habitat selects for ocean acidification–tolerant mussels. Science Advances 3: e1602411
  4. Biard, T., Stemmann, L., Picheral, M., Mayot, N., Vandromme, P., Hauss, H., Gorsky, G., Guidi, L., Kiko, R., Not, F. (2016) In situ imaging reveals the biomass of giant protists in the global ocean. Nature, 532:504-507.
  5. Stumpp, M., Hu, M.Y., Casties, I., Saborowski, R., Bleich, M., Melzner, F., Dupont, S. (2013). Digestion in sea urchin larvae impaired under ocean acidification. Nature Climate Change 3:1044-1049.
  6. Thomsen, J., Casties, I., Pansch, C., Körtzinger, A., Melzner, F. (2013). Food availability outweighs ocean acidification effects in juvenile Mytilus edulis: laboratory and field experiments. Global Change Biology 19:1017-1027.
  7. Melzner, F., Thomsen, J., Koeve, W., Oschlies, A., Gutowska, M.A., Bange, H.W., Hansen, H.P., Körtzinger, A. (2013). Future ocean acidification will be amplified by hypoxia in coastal habitats. Marine Biology 160:1875-1888.
  8. Stumpp, M., Hu, M.Y., Melzner, F., Gutowska, M.A., Dorey, N., Himmerkus, N., Holtmann, W., Dupont, S.T., Thorndyke, M.C., Bleich, M. (2012). Acidified seawater impacts sea urchin larvae pH regulatory systems relevant for calcification. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 109:18192-18197.