Research group - Larval Fish Ecology

Newly-hatched cod larvae. Photo: Catriona Clemmesen, GEOMAR
Cod larva (Gadus morhua). Photo: Fredrik Jutfelt
Cod larva (Gadus morhua). Photo: Fredrik Jutfelt


Survival of fish eggs and larvae is crucial for the recriutment to fisheries and the bottleneck in productions for aquaculture. the focus of the larval ecology group therefore is on the effects of the ocean currents, temperature, salinity and pH (ocean acidification) and genetic background on development, growth, performance, gene expression and survival of commercially important fish eggs and larvae, namely sea bass, herring and cod.


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M. Paulsen
F. Mittermayer
M. Stiasny
  • Dr. Catriona Clemmesen-Bockelmann (Senior Scientist / Group Leader)  fisheries biology, early life stages, biochemical indicators, climate change, ocean acidification, food web interactions, larval fish and zooplankton time series
  • Dr. Matthias Paulsen: fishery biologist, larval fish and zooplankton surveys, time series, growth and survival, larval fish nutritional status, fatty acids, food web interactions.
  • Felix Mittermayer (PhD student, co-supervized by T. Reusch): experimental biologist, genetics and evolution, transgenerational response, epigenetics, climate change effects
  • Martina Stiasny (PhD student, co-supervized by T. Reusch): experimental biologist, population dynamics and life history of fishes, fisheries management, fisheries modelling, climate change effects.

Former members of Research Group

Current Projects

2013 – 2017  EU-BONUS-project BIO-C3: "Biodiversity changes: causes, consequences and management implications", Task leader for “Physiological tolerance, preference and phenotypic plasticity”. Project involves 13 partners from 7 Baltic countries. People involved: PhD student Felix Mittermayer, Master student Luisa Berghoff.

2013 – 2016 "Fish disease, immunity and sustainable nutrition in aquaculture" (FINE Aqua) Funded by Ministry of Economics of Land Schleswig-Holstein to Dr. Catriona Clemmesen and Prof. Dr. Thorsten Reusch. People involved master student Huajing Yan, PhD student Andrea Franke, Postdoc Joanna Miest, junior group leader Dr. Olivia Roth.

2015 – 2017 ‘Effects of ocean acidification and warming on fish and their socioeconomic implications’ (together with Prof. Martin Quaas, Univ. Kiel). Part of BMBF-BIOACID large consortium phase III.  People involved PhD student Martina Stiasny.

2015 – 2016 'Zooplankton- indicator organism for the Marine Strategy Framework Directive'. Research grant awarded by State Agency for Environment Schleswig-Holstein. People involved PhD student Matthias Paulsen, Dipl. Biol. Christian Hesse

Selected Publications

Stiasny, M., Mittermayer, F., Sswat, M., Voss, R., Jutfelt, F., Chierici, M., Puvanendran, V., Mortensen, A., Reusch, T. B. H. und Clemmesen, C. (2016) Ocean Acidification Effects on Atlantic Cod Larval Survival and Recruitment to the Fished Population PLoS ONE, 11 (8). e0155448. DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0155448.

Costalago, D., Strydom, N., Frost, C. & Clemmesen, C. (2015) Preliminary insight into the relationship between environmental factors and the nutritional condition and growth of Gilchristella aestuaria larvae in the upper reaches of South African estuaries Environmental Biology of Fishes, 98 (12). pp. 2367-2378. DOI 10.1007/s10641-015-0447-8

Peck, M. A., Baumann, H., Clemmesen, C., Herrmann, J. P., Moyano, M. und Temming, A. (2015) Calibrating and comparing somatic-, nucleic acid-, and otolith-based indicators of growth and condition in young juvenile European sprat (Sprattus sprattus) Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 471 . pp. 217-225. DOI 10.1016/j.jembe.2015.06.011.

Maneja, R.H., Frommel, A.Y., Browman, H.I., Geffen, A.J., Folkvord, A., Piatkowski, U.,  Durif, C.M.F., Bjelland, R., Skiftesvik, A.B.  and Clemmesen, C.  (2015). The swimming kinematics and foraging behavior of larval Atlantic herring, (Clupea harengus L.), are unaffected by elevated pCO2. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 466:42-48.

Schade F.M, Clemmesen C., Wegner, K. M. (2014) Within- and trans- generational effects of ocean acidification on life history of marine three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus  aculeatus). Mar. Biol. DOI 10.1007/s00227-014-2450-6

Frommel A.Y., Maneja R.H., Lowe D., Pascoe C.K., Geffen A.J., Folkvord A., Piatkowski U. and Clemmesen C. (2014) Organ damage in Atlantic herring larvae as a result of ocean acidification. Ecol. Appl. 24(5): 1131–1143.

Paulsen M., Hammer C., Malzahn A.M,, Polte P., von Dorrien C. & Clemmesen, C. (2014) Nutritional situation for larval Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus L.) in two nursery areas in the western Baltic Sea. ICES J. Mar. Sci. 71 (4), 991-1000.

Paulsen, M,  Clemmesen, C, Arne M. Malzahn, AM (2014) Essential fatty acid (docosahexaeonic acid, DHA) availability affects growth of larval herring in the field. Marine Biology 161:239–244.

Maneja RH, Frommel AY, Geffen AJ, Folkvord A, Piatkowski U, Chang MY, Clemmesen, C (2013). Effects of ocean acidification on the calcification of otoliths of larval Atlantic cod, Gadus morhua L., Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 477: 251–258.

Voss, R., Peck, M.A., Hinrichsen, H.-H., Clemmesen, C., Baumann.H., Stepputtis, D., Bernreuter, M., Schmidt, J.O., Temming, A., Köster, F.W (2012). Recruitment processes in Baltic sprat - a re-evaluation of GLOBEC-Germany hypotheses. Progress in Oceanography 107, 51-79.

Frommel, AY, Maneja, R, Lowe, D, Malzahn, M, Geffen, AJ, Folkvord, A, Piatkowski, U, Reusch, TBH, Clemmesen, C (2012) Severe tissue damage in Atlantic cod larvae under increasing ocean acidification. Nature Climate Change 2, 42-46.

Franke, A. and Clemmesen, C. (2011) Effect of ocean acidification on early life stages of Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus L.). Biogeosciences 8, 3697-3707.

Huwer, B., Clemmesen, C., Grønkjær, P. and Köster, F.W. (2011) Vertical distribution and growth performance of Baltic cod larvae – Field evidence for starvation-induced recruitment regulation during the larval stage? Progress in Oceanography 91, 382-396.

Meyer, S, Caldarone, EM, Chicharo, MA, Clemmesen, C, Faria, AM, Faulk, C, Folkvord, A, Holt, GJ, Hoie, H, Kanstinger, P, Malzahn, A, Moran, D, Petereit, C, Stottrup, JG, Peck, MA (2011). On the edge of death: Rates of decline and lower thresholds of biochemical condition in food-deprived fish larvae and juveniles. J. Mar. Syst. 93, 11-24. Doi: 10.1016/j.jmarsys.2011.09.010

Hinrichsen, H.H., Voss, R., Huwer, B., Clemmesen, C.: 2010: Variability of larval Baltic sprat  (Sprattus sprattus L.) otolith growth: a modeling approach combining spatially and temporally resolved biotic and abiotic environmental key variables. Fish. Oceanogr. 19:6, 463-479