During the first decade since the founding of ZMT mangrove research (as part of the cooperative MADAM in North-western Brazil was one of the main research pillars of the institute. The so-called BENEFIT project, meanwhile, saw ZMT scientists study the ecology of the Benguela Upwelling System and its fishery resources in Namibia and South Africa.
Studying coral reefs with four countries of the Middle East became another research focus after Germany’s Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF), assigned the coordination of the RED-Sea programme to ZMT.
Over the course of the following years ZMT developed long-term projects in countries that had signed agreements with German for science and technology cooperation – amongst them projects with Indonesia (SPICE), China (LANCET) and the region of southern Africa. (GENUS).
Today ZMT's research regions cover almost the whole tropical belt. In two foci countries, Brazil (Bragança) and Indonesia (Purwokerto, Java), ZMT is operating a field station with local partners.
Regional foci of research and capacity development projects are in:
- Indonesia, Singapore (e.g SGD-Nut, Triple C, ACUTE, EMERSA, DiSeMiNation, SPICE III)
- China, Vietnam (e.g ECOLOC, TICAS)
- Africa, south of the Sahara (e.g. SEAMAC, COMPLEX, PADDLE, DiSeMiNation)
- South America (e.g. MOSETIP, DiSeMiNation, PADDLE, MADAM)
- Pacific (e.g REPICORE, PACE-Net+)