Symposium: Marine Mammals in a Changing Environment (7-8 March 2019; Hamburg, Germany)

                                              ‘MARINE MAMMALS IN A CHANGING ENVIRONMENT’

Symposium – 07-08 March 2019 – CeNak, Hamburg, Germany

Marine mammals comprise top predators and upper trophic levels in oceanic ecosystems of the world. They are increasingly threatened by various anthropogenic impacts in their marine habitat, e.g. pollution by chemical and pharmaceutical substances, marine litter, underwater noise, changes in prey abundance and climate change. These constraints can have serious implications for the health status of marine mammals through elevated stress response, immune suppression as well as higher energy and metabolic demands caused by disturbances that may affect different populations to a varying degree.

The project ‘Marine Mammals In a Changing Environment’, funded by the VolkswagenFoundation, forms a consortium of museums and universities in Germany, Denmark and Sweden, combining unique collections, marine mammal expertise and innovative methods to investigate native marine mammal species.

Results will be presented with respect to changes in health condition and population status of marine mammals over long time periods and in different marine environments; in particular with respect to 1) to bone lesions in seal skulls, 2) feeding-related dental micro texture, 3) organochlorines in blubber of harbour seals, 4) trace elements in pelts of several seal species, and 5) parasitic and viral pathogens in seals during the last decades and century.

Cooperation partners:

Institute for Terrestrial and Aquatic Wildlife Research (ITAW), University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Foundation (TiHo), Germany

Centrum of Natural History (CeNak), University of Hamburg, Germany

Zoological Museum of Kiel University, Germany

German Oceanographic Museum Stralsund, Germany

University of Hildesheim, Germany

Natural History Museum of Denmark, Denmark

Swedish Museum of Natural History, Sweden


Confirmed keynote speakers:

Krishna Das, University of Liège, Laboratory of Oceanology-MARE, Belgium

Anders Galatius, Aarhus University, Department of Bioscience, Marine Mammal Research, Denmark

Gerd Meurs-Scher, Multimar Wattforum, Germany



The symposium will be held at the Centrum of Natural History (CeNak), University of Hamburg;
Martin-Luther-King-Platz 3, 20146 Hamburg, Germany



The detailed programme is available here


Thursday, 07th March 2019 

11.00 – 13:30 Registration

13.00 – 13:30 Welcome

Ursula Siebert, Director of the Institute for Terrestrial and Aquatic Wildlife Research, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Foundation, Germany

Thomas M. Kaiser, Chair of Mammalogy and Paleoanthropology, Center of Natural History, University of Hamburg, Germany

13.30 – 14.15 Keynote 1

Mercury in marine vertebrates: new insights from speciation and isotopic composition, Krishna Das, University of Liege, Belgium

14.15 – 14.35: Dental pathology and alveolar bone lesions in Eastern Atlantic harbour seals, Patricia Kahle, University of Hildesheim, Germany

14.35 – 15.20 Coffee / Tea Break /Photo

15.20 – 15.40: Periapical lesions and osteomyelitis of the jaws as sequel, Uwe Kierdorf, University of Hildesheim, Germany

15.40 – 16.00: Dietary trait reconstruction in marine mammals, Elehna Bethune, Center of Natural History, Germany

16.00 – 16.20: Acanthocephalans in intestines of North and Baltic Sea grey and harbour seals: Pathologies, Prevalences and Present Situation, Jan Lakemeyer, Institute for Terrestrial and Aquatic Wildlife Research, Germany

16.20 – 16.40: Trophic niche structure of marine mammals from the North Sea: Location and time-trend effect, France Damseaux, University of Liege, Belgium

16.40 – 17.00: Skeletal adaptations of aquatic vertebrates to fasting, swimming, diving and hearing, Tim Rolvien, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany

17.00 – 17.30: Poster Session

19.00: Icebreaker with buffet, in the Exhibition of the CeNak


Friday, 08th March 2019 

9.00 – 9.45: Keynote 2

Whales, Wadden Sea and World Heritage Site – relevance of whales for environmental education, Gerd Meurs, Multimar Wattforum, Germany

9.45 – 10.30: Keynote 3

From morphology to management, Anders Galatius, Aarhus University, Denmark

10.30 – 10.50

Title pending, Morten Tange Olsen, Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

10.50 – 11.35: Coffee / Tea Break

11.35 – 11.55: A phylogenetic study on the evolutionary history of Canine Distemper Virus and Phocine Distemper Virus, Iben Stockholm, Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

11.55 – 12.15: There and back again – the return of the nasal mite Halarachne halichoeri to seals in German waters, Kristina Lehnert, Anja Reckendorf, Institute for Terrestrial and Aquatic Wildlife Research, Germany

12.15 – 12.35: A concept for a travel exhibition – how to bring the research results to the people, Katrin Wollny-Goerke, Meeresmedien, Germany

12.35 – 13.00 Closing Remarks and Farewell



Center of Natural History (CeNak), University of Hamburg, Germany

Institute for Terrestrial and Aquatic Wildlife Research (ITAW), Büsum, Germany



The symposium is free of charge but formal registration is needed as our venue is limited to 200 attendees.

Please e-mail your registration for the symposium until 15 February 2019 to