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Student theses

The Micropalaeontology-Paleoceanography group welcomes motivated students to carry out Bachelor and Master theses, as well as student research projects, in our labs. You are welcome to suggest your own topic or let yourselves be inspired by the list of potential topics presented below. We offer hands-on supervision in the fields of paleoceanography, paleobiology and marine ecology, using methods such as morphometry and image analysis, 3D rendering of microfossils, analysis of marine sediment cores, geochemical paleoproxies, molecular genetics and multivariate data analysis. For more details, have a look at our facilities.

Student thesis work in our group is typically embedded in ongoing research projects and often leads to publications. The theses can be written in German or English, but the students should be prepared to communicate in English within the group.

The following Bachelor and Master thesis topics are available in our group at the time. Feel free to approach the respective contact persons with further questions about the thesis topic you are interested in. You may also want to have a look at the list of theses that have been completed in our working group in the recent years.

completed theses

Master theses

Seasonality and stable isotope ecology of planktonic foraminifera

  • Rationale:
    The time in the year when foraminifera live and record ocean conditions leaves a large imprint on their fossil record, yet the factors that control seasonality are only partly constrained.
  • Aim:
    Constrain the mechanisms controlling shell flux and stable isotope variability of planktonic foraminifera in the northern North Atlantic.
  • Material/methods:
    Sediment trap samples; planktonic foraminifera assemblage counts; isotope ratio mass spectrometry.
  • Desired knowledge:
    Introduction to paleoceanography and micropaleontology.
  • Skills to be learned:
    Planktonic foraminifera taxonomy and ecology, stable isotope analysis, analysis of modern oceanographic and phenological data.

Crusts in planktonic foraminifera: origin and consequences for paleoceanography

  • Rationale:
    The shells of planktonic foraminifera are compositionally heterogeneous. This represents a source of uncertainty in paleoceanographic reconstructions.
  • Aim:
    Assess the mechanisms of crust formation and crust composition in planktonic foraminifera.
  • Material/methods:
    Plankton tow samples; isotope ratio mass spectrometry; scanning electron microscopy; electron microprobe analysis.
  • Desired knowledge:
    Introduction to paleoceanography and foraminiferal isotope and trace element proxies.
  • Skills to be learned:
    The methods mentioned above; biomineralisation in planktonic foraminifera.

Homeostasis in planktonic foraminifera

  • Rationale:
    Planktonic foraminifera are selective recorders of oceanic conditions and their fossil record unlikely reflects the full amplitude of past change.
  • Aim:
    Assess if planktonic foraminifera abundance can be used to correct for habitat tracking and improve paleoceanographic reconstructions.
  • Material/methods:
    Core top samples; planktonic foraminifera assemblage counts, isotope ratio mass spectrometry.
  • Desired knowledge:
    Introduction to paleoceanography and micropaleontology.
  • Skills to be learned:
    Planktonic foraminifera taxonomy and ecology, stable isotope analysis and systematics, analysis of oceanographic data.

Determination of natural and anthropogenic forcing of climate change in the eastern Mediterranean during the last 2000 years using organic-walled dinoflagellate cysts

(time interval of choice, for example Little Ice Age, Roman Warm Period, Medival Warm Period etc.)

  • Aim:
    Reconstruction of upper water temperatures, precipitation and pollution in the coastal region off southern Italy
  • Material / Methods:
    Dinoflagellate cyst associations will be analysed by light-microscopy from core sediments. Organic fraction of sediments will be concentrated by chemical treatment (HCL and HF)
  • Desired foreknowledge:
    General background knowledge about oceanography and dinoflagellate ecology
  • Special skills to be learned:
    Assemblage data analysis (Identification of potential forcing factors such as solar forcing, volcanic activity, differential climate modes etc.), Meta analysis (archeological data), frequency/wavelet analysis, Modern Analogue Techniques

Prof. Dr. Karin Zonneveld

Phone: 

+49 421 218-65797

Fax:

+49 421 218-9865974

Email:

Room: 

MARUM II, Raum 1010

Determination of natural and anthropogenic forcing of climate change in the German North Sea during the last 300 years using organic-walled dinoflagellate cysts

  • Aim:
    Reconstruction of upper water temperatures, precipitation and pollution in the coastal region off Germany
  • Material / Methods:
    Dinoflagellate cyst associations will be analysed by light-microscopy from core sediments. Organic fraction from core sediments will be concentrationd by chemical tratment (HCL and HF)
  • Desired foreknowledge:
    General background knowledge about oceanography and dinoflagellate ecology
  • Special skills to be learned:
    Assemblage data analysis (Identification of potential forcing factors such as solar forcing, volcanic activity, differential climate modes etc.), Meta analysis (archeological data), frequency/wavelet analysis, Modern Analogue Techniques

Prof. Dr. Karin Zonneveld

Phone: 

+49 421 218-65797

Fax:

+49 421 218-9865974

Email:

Room: 

MARUM II, Raum 1010

Species specific preservation of organic-walled dinoflagellate cysts

  • Aim:
    Determination of the species specific degradation rates of organic-walled dinoflagellate cysts
  • Material / Methods:
    Degradation experiments on core sediments collected from oxygen minimum zones can be carried out in temperature chambers. Degradation rates of individual cyst species will be studied along oxygen gradients in core sediments (for instance along so called „burn-down“ events of sapropels).
  • Desired foreknowledge:
    Basic knowledge about organic geochemistry, dinoflagellate cyst ecology, oceanography ans statistics
  • Special skills to be learned:
    Knowledge about special palaeoceanographic changes that occur in relation to oxygen minima (for instance sapropel formation, brine formation/ventilation), multivariate analyses, modern analogue techniques, chemical redox changes related processes in sediments

Prof. Dr. Karin Zonneveld

Phone: 

+49 421 218-65797

Fax:

+49 421 218-9865974

Email:

Room: 

MARUM II, Raum 1010

Bachelor theses

Seasonal production of organic or calcareous dinoflagellate cyst in an upwelling area off NW Africa

  • Aim:
    Determination of the physical factors that steer the seasonal production and export of dinoflagellate cysts in the upper water column
  • Material / Methods:
    Dinoflagellate cysts associations will be analysed from sediment trap samples, environmental data will be gathered from web-based databases
  • Desired foreknowledge:
    General background knowledge about oceanography and dinoflagellate ecology
  • Special skills to be learned:
    Multivariate analysis, use of ocean data view, extraction of satellite data from web-based sources

Prof. Dr. Karin Zonneveld

Phone: 

+49 421 218-65797

Fax:

+49 421 218-9865974

Email:

Room: 

MARUM II, Raum 1010

High temporal resolution reconstruction of temperature and precipitation in the eastern Mediterranean during the last 2000 years

  • Aim:
    Reconstruction of upper water temperaturtes and precipitation in the Italian region
  • Material / Methods:
    Dinoflagellate cyst associations from core sediments will be analysed. Archeological information is to be gathered from literature
  • Desired foreknowledge:
    General background knowledge about oceanography and dinoflagellate ecology
  • Special skills to be learned:
    Assemblage data analysis, Meta analysis (archeological data); frequency/wavelet analysis

Prof. Dr. Karin Zonneveld

Phone: 

+49 421 218-65797

Fax:

+49 421 218-9865974

Email:

Room: 

MARUM II, Raum 1010

High temporal resolution reconstructions of upper water temperatures of the western Indian Ocean during the Late Quaternary based on stable oxygen isotopes of the calcareous dinoflagellate Thoracosphaera heimii

  • Aim:
    Palaeoceanographic reconstruction of sea surface temperatures based on stable oxygen isotopes
  • Material / Methods:
    T.heimii cysts will be isolated from marine sediments. Isotopic compositions will be analysed by mass spectrometry
  • Desired foreknowledge:
    Basic knowledge about oceanography and dinoflagellate biology
  • Special skills to be learned:
    Knowledge about isotope fractionation, vital effects, effects of differential physical factors on isotope signals (e.g. alkalinity/pH of seawater, salinity); frequency/wavelet analysis

Prof. Dr. Karin Zonneveld

Phone: 

+49 421 218-65797

Fax:

+49 421 218-9865974

Email:

Room: 

MARUM II, Raum 1010