Project groups


Project leader:
Prof. Dr. Michael Türkay

During the glacial periods of the Pleistocene, extreme sea level minima cut off the Red Sea basin from the Indian Ocean at the shallow sill of Bab al-Mandab. Evidence suggests that these hydrological isolation events repeatedly caused the Red Sea to turn into an aquatic environment with increased salinity and impoverished biodiversity. The present project focuses on the investigation of the re-colonization processes during the interglacial periods, especially during the last sea level rise in the late Pleistocene and Holocene, using genetic markers and biodiversity archives of reef, shelf and to the extend possible deep sea ecosystems. Molecular clocks for selected organisms (e.g. fish, corals, crustaceans) will be developed and calibrated for the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden region. They will be correlated with paleo-climatic and paleo-ecological data and incorporated into a phylogeographic analysis, aiming at re-constructing evolutionary processes of taxa and populations. Subsequently the evolution of the paleo-communities will be inferred from ecogeographic analyses, based on the comparison of historic diversity and abundance data with paleo-climatic and paleo-oceanographic data. The project has the following objectives:

• To establish molecular clocks for selected groups of organisms;

• To adapt “coalescent genealogy samplers” methods to estimate past qualities of populations, patterns of gene flow and time of divergence from another population;

• To implement cooperation projects in the field of marine-geological climate reconstruction (with external funding);

• To conduct phylogeographic and paleo-ecogeographic analyses of the area;

• To reconstruct late Pleistocene re-colonisation patterns and processes;

• To develop algorithms and models of the climate-induced biodiversity shifts in the marine environment.

This activity forms part of the overarching project “Tropical Marine Systems”. It is thus closely linked to the preceding project A3.3 and interacts with complementary activities in the projects B2.3 and F.5. It is also related to the project B2.4.

Field Research Station Socotra


Bastian Greshake, BiK-Net scholar
Uwe Zajonz, Researcher
Hannes Pulch, Ph.D. student


Alpermann, T.J., Beszteri, B., John, U., Tillmann, U. & A.D. Cembella (2009) : Implications of life-history transitions on the population genetic structure of the toxigenic marine dinoflagellate Alexandrium tamarense. - Molecular Ecology 18: 2122–2133.

Alpermann, T.J., Mee, J.K.L. & M.L. Berumen (2013) : First record of the black-fin coral goby, Paragobiodon lacunicolus (Kendall & Goldsborough), from the Red Sea. - Journal of Applied Ichthyology, online early.

Alpermann, T.J., Plieske, J., Mal, A.O., Gon, O.& M.L. Berumen (2014) :

Isolation and characterization of polymorphic microsatellite loci for Siphamia tubifer Weber (Perciformes: Apogonidae). - Conservation Genetics Ressources 6: 1031-1034.

Alpermann, T.J., Tillmann, U., Beszteri, B., Cembella, A.D. & U. John (2010) : Phenotypic variation and genotypic diversity in a planktonic population of the toxigenic marine dinoflagellate Alexandrium tamarense (Dinophyceae). Journal of Phycology, 46: 18-32.

Anderson, D.M., Alpermann, T.J., Cembella, A.D., Collos, Y., Masseret, E. & M. Montresor (2012) : The globally distributed genus Alexandrium: Multifaceted roles in marine ecosystems and impacts on human health. - Harmful Algae 14: 10–35.

Khalaf, M. & F. Krupp (2008) : A new species of the genus Symphysanodon (Perciformes: Symphysanodontidae) from the Gulf of Aqaba, Red Sea. - Aqua, International Journal of Ichthyology 14(2): 85-88.
Download publication, PDF 54 KB

Krock, B., Tillmann, T., Alpermann, T.J., Voß, D., Zielinski, O. & A.D. Cembella (2013) : Phycotoxin composition and distribution in plankton fractions from the German Bight and western Danish coast. - Journal of Plankton Research 35 (5): 1093-1108.

Krupp, F., Zajonz, U. & M.A. Khalaf : A new species of the deepwater cardinalfish genus Epigonus (Perciformes: Epigonidae) from the Gulf of Aqaba, Red Sea. - aqua, International Journal of Ichthyology 15 (4): 223-227.
Download publication, PDF 126 KB

Krupp, F. & U. Zajonz (2009) : Erforschung und Management der biologischen Vielfalt des Sokotra Archipels. - Jemen-Report Jg. 40/2009, Heft 2
Download publication, PDF 5 MB

Marin, I. & M. Türkay (2009) : Redescription of Periclimenes brockii (De Man, 1888) (Decapoda: Caridea: Pontoniinae) and other De Man’s type specimens deposited in the collection of the Senckenberg Natural History Museum (SMF), Frankfurt-at-Maine, Germany. - Zootaxa 2296: 39–46.

Molecular Ecology Resources Primer Development Consortium, C., Abreu, A.G., Albaina, A., Alpermann, T.J., Apkenas, V.E., Bankhead-Dronnet, S., Bergek, S., Berumen, M.L., Cho, C.-H., Clobert, J. et al. (2012) : Permanent Genetic Resources added to Molecular Ecology Resources Database 1 October 2011 – 30 November 2011. - Molecular Ecology Resources 12(2): 374–376.

Naderloo, R. & M.Türkay (2009) : A new species of the genus Nanosesarma (Crustacea: Decapoda: Brachyura: Sesarmidae), and redescription of Nanosesarma jousseaumei (Nobili, 1906), including new records from the Persian Gulf. - Journal of Natural History 43: 2911–2923.

Tahvanainen, P., Alpermann, T.J., Figueroa, R.I., John, U., Hakanen, P., Nagai, S., Blomster, J. & A. Kremp (2012) : Patterns of Post-Glacial Genetic Differentiation in Marginal Populations of a Marine Microalga. - PLoS One 7(12): e53602.

Tillmann, U., Alpermann, T.J., da Purificação, R.C., Krock, B. & A.D. Cembella (2009) : Intra-population clonal variability in allelochemical potency of the toxigenic dinoflagellate Alexandrium tamarense. - Harmful Algae 8: 759–769.

Toebe, K., Alpermann, T.J., Tillmann, U., Krock, B., Cembella, A & U. John (2013) : Molecular discrimination of toxic and non‐toxic Alexandrium species (Dinophyta) in natural phytoplankton assemblages from the Scottish coast of the North Sea. - European Journal of Phycology 48(1): 12–26.

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