Marine Populations & Macroecology – University of Copenhagen

Forward this page to a friend Resize Print Bookmark and Share

CMEC > Research > Marine Populations & M...

Climate change and human impacts such as fishing and eutrophication influence the dynamics and interactions of marine populations and species. To gain insight into these processes we investigate the spatial and temporal distributions of life in the ocean, focusing primarily on fishes and benthic macro-invertebrates.

This research theme investigates key processes affecting life histories and distribution of populations, including reproduction, mortality and migration. Furthermore we focus on detection and interpretation of larger scale biodiversity patterns, and the past and future processes which affect those patterns. The theme spans a range of temporal, spatial and phylogenetic scales such as years to millennia; regional seas to entire global ocean; populations to orders.

The main research questions are:

  • How can process knowledge of local populations inform us about species-level responses to climate change (e.g., shifts in geographic ranges, interactions with other species)?
  • How will climate change affect entire fish communities and in which geographic regions will changes be greatest?
  • How has past climate variability led to the current spatial distribution of fish biodiversity in the oceans?

Research projects

Knowledge about invasion of exotic marine species to new areas and ways to prevent it, is an important field of marine research. This project investigates the population dynamic and genetics of two invasive marine crab species and their most prominent parasite, a parasitic barnacle or rhizocephalan, which as adult castrates their crab hosts. The data from the study of these model systems will be used to evaluate if it is possible to control biological invasions in marine systems by the use of parasites.


Project leader: Henrik Glenner


The crustacean taxon, Cumacea, is a world-wide distributed member of the oceans soft bottom communities. They locally occur in great numbers and often also with a high diversity within only a few square meters. However, only little information exists on their biology and distribution pattern. In this project we provide a complete inventories of the Norwegian Cumacean fauna. Both classical taxonomical and molecular methods are applied. The taxonomic information will open for the long awaited evaluation of using cumaceans as environmental indicators.


Project leader: Henrik Glenner


Carcinus maenas is an important marine biological model species, but astonishingly little is known about its population biology, including basic parameters such as growth rate, age distribution and life. A multi-year baseline study of the species' original environment can form the basis of similar studies conducted in the invaded areas. The current project, therefore, focus particularly on how abiotic key parameters such as salinity, currents, water depths and temperatures influences parasite prevalence, crab size and distribution in the Limfjord.


Project leader: Henrik Glenner


A changing environment affects the physiological performance and ultimately the spatial distribution of cod and its prey throughout the North Atlantic. In this project we estimate the future spatial cod distribution and catch potentials and evaluate the importance of abiotic changes (e.g. temperature) and biotic changes (changes in predator and prey abundance distributions).


Project leader:

Martin Hartvig

CMEC researchers:

Anna Neuheimer , Brian MacKenzie


Environmental changes affect all species in the food web, and changes thus both have a direct effect on each species plus an indirect effect stemming from changes in interaction strengths and patterns. In this project we investigate both species and community level reactions to a changing climate.


Project leader:

Martin Hartvig

CMEC researchers:

Anna Neuheimer , Brian MacKenzie


Predicting the future is difficult - including the future of fish populations and marine ecosystems. We investigate ways to combine multiple climate-ocean model outputs with fish and food web models to improve projections of fish responses in the sea.  The results will help society develop conservation policies that accommodate climate change, fishing and eutrophication effects on fish populations.


Project leader:

Brian MacKenzie

The number of marine fish species differs throughout the global ocean, with richness highest in coral reef areas. But how has the diversification and evolution of these species varied in space?  This project is investigating how diversification rates of fish in large marine ecosystems vary in space and which factors may have led to higher species richness in some areas than others.


Project leader:

Brian MacKenzie

CMEC researchers:

Ben Holt , Carsten Rahbek


Bluefin tuna are highly migratory and one of the world’s commercially most valuable species. This project investigates why the species has become locally extinct in former areas of its range such as the North-Norwegian Seas and the Black Sea. We investigate factors such as fishing and food supply that affect spatial distribution and migratory behaviour. We also develop baseline hydrographic conditions for all bluefin tuna spawning areas in the world that can be used to assess climate change impacts.


Project leader:

Brian MacKenzie


Most fish abundance datasets are only 20-40 years long and cover a time period when biomasses were already reduced by fishing. This makes it difficult to attribute and quantify causes of fluctuations (e. g., fishing, climate variability). In collaboration with maritime/fisheries historians, we develop longer time series of abundance and distributions of fish populations and interpret their dynamics.  Current species of interest are herring (North Sea), bluefin tuna (northern Europe, Black Sea) and swordfish (northwest Atlantic).


Project leader:

Brian MacKenzie


Atlantic cod and herring are economically important fish spanning the north Atlantic. We develop

modelling tools to explain and predict dynamics of cod and herring populations across the north Atlantic and predator-prey interactions under future climate conditions. The models will include environmentally dependent growth and life history for both species across their range.


Project leader:

Anna Neuheimer

CMEC researchers:

Martin Hartvig , Brian MacKenzie


This project investigates inter-species variability in temperature effects on the life history of small pelagic fishes in the north Atlantic. Our work focus on egg and larval stages as these are particularly vulnerable to climate change, and will include temperature effects on survival, growth and developmental rates, timing of spawning and match-mismatch dynamics. We will examine which early life history traits have stronger or weaker responses to temperature changes, and how this may vary among species.


Project leader:

Stavroula Tsoukali

CMEC researchers:

Brian MacKenzie