Dr. Steffen Funk
I am currently working on the ecology of Western Baltic cod (Gadus morhua). In detail, I focus on its spatio-temporal distribution, feeding ecology and growth dynamics.
Climate change is dramatically affecting ecosystems around the world and it is also a rising threat for the species of the Baltic Sea. Particularly the fish species are already influenced by several currently acting pressures, one of the major being commercial fisheries. This makes them particularly vulnerable to effects associated with climate change including heat waves and the expansion of oxygen-minimum zones. These effects are likely to influence the species behaviour, their food intake and subsequently growth. In particular, commercially important species of the western Baltic Sea like herring and cod may be among the "great losers" of climate change.
From this perspective, regular scientific monitoring of fish species is an important prerequisite to track the possible impacts climate change and other pressures can have on the population structure and fish stock dynamics additionally providing valuable data for stock assessment. However, despite decades of fish stock monitoring and management, there are still crucial areas in the western Baltic Sea that are not, or not sufficiently, covered by conventional monitoring methods. For example, shallow coastal water zones, which are usually inaccessible to scientific research vessels. Nevertheless, these areas most likely represent key habitats (e.g. as nurseries) for many fish species within the ecosystem.
In the interdisciplinary collaborative project AuTagBeoFisch ("Autonomous Diving Robot-Based Observation of Fish Swarms"), scientists from the University of Hamburg (Institute of Marine Ecosystem and Fisheries Sciences – IMF), the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (HAW) and the Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH) are currently developing a diving robot monitoring tool. The diving robot will autonomously explore areas (using high resolution sensory systems) that were previously inaccessible or difficult to access with traditional monitoring methods. Chances are high that the newly developed tools will improve the general ecological understanding of commercially important species (such as cod and herring in the western Baltic Sea) and thus help to better assess the consequences of future climate change on the behaviour and distribution changes of these species. The project is funded by the Ministry of Science, Research and Equality (BWFG) as part of the Hamburg State Research Funding.
2017-2020 Doctor in Biology, Institute of Marine Ecosystem and Fisheries Science, University of Hamburg
2014-2017 MSc in Marine Ecosystem and Fisheries Science, University of Hamburg
2011-2014 BSc in Biology, University of Hamburg
2017-2020 Scientist at the Institute of Marine Ecosystem and Fisheries Science, University of Hamburg in the project BONUS BLUEWEBS
2020-ongoing Scientist at the Institute of Marine Ecosystem and Fisheries Science, University of Hamburg in the project AuTagBeoFisch