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Fisheries, leaching of nutrients and hazardous substances affect the structure and productivity of marine ecosystems. At the same time, there is considerable interest in wind farms and other space demanding activities contribution to changes of the physical habitats. With increased ship traffic, alien species gain a foothold in our marine areas. The future climate will give us warmer water, more oxygen depletion, increased water levels and lower salinity. All in all, the ecosystems in Danish waters face a number of challenges which the research and consultancy in our section address.

Research in the marine cycle of substances

An important focal point in the section’s research is the biogeochemical processes of the marine cycle of substances. The work involves laboratory and fieldwork studies as well as analyses of large data sets from the Danish national monitoring programme. Our focus is targeted on the nutrient metabolism, the oxygen balance and the importance of dissolved organic matter on the light conditions. Based on our results, we, in cooperation with other colleagues, are able to model the environmental effects of for instance eutrophication.

Marine diversity and habitats

We also work on identifying and quantifying the importance of different factors on marine biodiversity and habitat quality. We identify species and examine their adaptive capacity. The key issues are interactions and feedback mechanisms between habitats and press factors such as eutrophication, hazardous substances, fisheries and the effects of climate change. A large part of this work takes its starting point in the analyses of data from the monitoring programme. Other focal points are the dispersal of native and alien species and their distribution patterns interacting with anthropogenic environment changes.

Ecotoxicology and environmental chemistry

Hazardous substances and their importance to the aquatic ecosystems are another focal research area. We examine occurrence and fate of both metals, organometal and organic substances as well as their influence on the aquatic ecosystem. The importance of marine litter and microplastics are also part of this research area. We develop new methods for sampling and chemical analyses as well as methods for estimating effects and risks on organisms. By developing biomarkers, we are also able to estimate hormone disturbances and other relevant biological effects of hazardous substances.

Monitoring and management

Our section is responsible for the national monitoring of soft-bottom fauna as well as macroalgae and fauna on stone reefs. This task requires profound knowledge of species, their environment and interactions. Other core activities are monitoring of hazardous substances in organisms and sediment and assessment of the effect of hazardous substances on fish.

Our section assists the governmental authorities with development of nature and environmental indicators and consultancy which support the management of our marine areas, e.g. in connection with the Habitats Directive, the Water Framework Directive and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.


Our section is responsible for courses in environmental management and our staff supervise bachelor, master and PhD students.



Marine Diversity and Experimental Ecology
Aarhus University
Department of Bioscience
Frederiksborgvej 399
DK-4000 Roskilde