Upwelling systems are highly productive marine ecosystems which supply the major part of the worldwide fisheries output and which play a central role for the livelihood of the coastal population. The research programme GENUS (Geochemistry and Ecology of the Namibian Upwelling System) started in 2009 financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). It aims to clarify and model relationships between climate change, biogeochemical cycles, and ecosystem structure in a large marine ecosystem, the upwelling system of the northern Benguela / Namibian Coast.

After an excellent evaluation, the BMBF sent the research programme into a second three-year phase starting the 1st of May. While the project focused on the coast off Namibia in its first phase, the research area will now be extended to the North and South.

The ZMT is taking part in GENUS with two subprojects, which are dedicated on the one hand to biogeochemical aspects, on the other to the marine life in the upwelling system off Namibia. Thus, the change of environmental conditions can result in changes in the plankton community. As fish larvae live on the plankton, the fish abundance can decrease considerably. “By analysing the otoliths of the fish as well as the fatty acids and lipids from the larvae, we can draw conclusions as to their nutritional status”, says Werner Ekau. He is the contact person for GENUS at the ZMT. Several expeditions on research vessels and experimental work in the aquaculture facilities of the partner institutes in Swakopmund (Namibia) and Cape Town (South Africa) are planned.

The biogeochemical investigations will aim at examining the impacts of climate change on the so called biological pump, through which carbon is being transported from the surface to the deep ocean.

To the GENUS website

To the GENUS-podcasts


Project Partners (Germany)


International Project Partners

University of Bremen
- Department of Marine Zoology

University of Hamburg
- Institute for Biogeochemistry and Marine Chemistry
- Institute for Hydrobiology und Fisheries Science

Biologische Anstalt Helgoland (AWI)

Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research

  Swakopmund / Namibia
National Marine Information and Research Centre

Windhuk / Namibia
Unviersity of Namibia

Cape Town / South Africa
Marine and Coastal Management