24.05.2019 | ZMT students Hannah von Hammerstein and Theresa-Marie Fett from the international M.Sc. study programme ISATEC (International Studies in Aquatic Tropical Ecology) by ZMT and the University of Bremen have successfully raised funds for their master's theses. They are now financially supported by the Kellner & Stoll Foundation, the Lighthouse Foundation and the German Foundation for Marine Research (Deutsche Stiftung Meeresforschung).

The two biologists are working on an unusual phenomenon that has not yet been covered much in the scientific literature: Young mangrove trees that grow on a coral back reef near Suva, Fiji. They are now investigating this unusual ecological partnership for their master's theses and hope to find new, previously unknown opportunities for afforestation of mangrove forests.

With their work they hope to show that this new form of co-existence of reefs and mangroves not only enriches the habitat as a nursery for ecologically and economically important species, but through rising sedimentation rates also provides protection from local coastal erosion

"Mangrove forests are biodiversity hotspots, but they are declining worldwide. Therefore, it is very important to identify more of these valuable areas on a global scale, to complement their understanding of their ecological dynamics and to communicate this knowledge further. We hope to contribute to this with our project," the two dedicated biologists tolde the German Foundation Marine Research (Deutsche Stiftung Meeresforschung).

The young researchers are supervised by Sonia Bejarano (WG Reef Systems) and Véronique Helfer (WG Mangrove Ecology). Collaboration partners include Sebastian Ferse and Martin Zimmer of the ZMT and Stuart Kininmonth of the University of South Pacific in Fiji.

An status report on the research project "Mangroves on back reefs" has been published by the German Foundation for Marine Research (Deutsche Stiftung Meeresforschung).