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Biological Oceanography - How Physics Affects Biology


 (c) Thünen-Institut

Biological Oceanography - How Physics Affects Biology

Factors such as temperature, salinity, oxygen, and oceanic currents shape the environmental conditions of marine life and directly or indirectly impact marine ecosystems. In this project, we aim to understand and quantify these impacts and use climatic trends to predict future changes in marine life.


Background and Objective

In this project, we explore the influence of marine physics on marine ecosystems and particularly fish. Data analyses, statistical models as well as computer simulations help us to better understand and predict the complex interactions between physical (e.g. temperature, salinity, current conditions) and biological variables (e.g. fish stock distribution, biomass and productivity).

Target Group

Policy makers; Marine scientists


We apply a variety of statistical methods to investigate environmental influences on abundance, recruitment, and distribution of commercial fish species. In particular, our habitat models are complex statistical methods (generalized additive and linear (mixed models) and help us to determine relationships between the environment and the spatial distribution of fish. These models allow us to explore the influence of climate change on the fish distribution, as well as to calculate medium- to long-term projections of future distributional changes as a result of climate change. Moreover, we use physiological individual-based models to explore the processes that control variability in fish productivity. Our models simulate individual fish eggs, larvae, and juveniles and estimate their growth and mortality. The models help us investigate the potential influence of environmental and human-induced changes in marine ecosystems (e.g., offshore wind farms, coastal protection measures) on the survival of fish early life stages.

Our Research Questions

What is the influence of environmental parameters and climate change on the distribution and population dynamics of North Atlantic fish stocks?

What are the relevant processes, and on what spatial and temporal scales do they occur?

Preliminary Results

  • Data transmission to ICES, World Ocean Database etc.
  • Various publications, e.g.:

Stein, M. 2007. Warming Periods off Greenland during 1800-2005: Their Potential Influence on the Abundance of Cod (Gadus morhua) and Haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus) in Greenlandic Waters. J. Northw. Atl. Fish. Sci. 39: 1-20.

Fock, H. 2007. Driving-forces for Greenland offshore groundfish assemblages: interplay of climate, ocean productivity and fisheries. J. Northw. Atl. Fish. Sci. 39: 103-118.

Payne, M.R., Hatfield, E.M.C., Dickey-Collas, M., Falkenhaug, T., Gallego, A., Gröger, J., Licandro, P., Llope, M., Munk, P., Röckmann, C., Schmidt, J.O., and Nash, R.D.M. 2009. Recruitment in a changing environment: the 2000s North Sea herring recruitment failure. ICES Journal of Marine Science 66: 272-277.


Involved Thünen-Partners


7.2008 - 12.2027

More Information

Projekt type:
Project status: ongoing