The German biologist Ernst Haeckel found the term ecology or “oekologie” in 1866. He defined it as the comprehensive science of the relationship of the organism to the environment. Thus, we study the interactions of marine organisms with their environment, including abiotic factors such as sunlight, temperature and salinity and biotic factors, among them, other organisms that share their habitat. We try to quantify the largely unknown biodiversity of the Ecuadorian mainland coast and investigate interactions within the occurring ecosystems.
Stability and recovery potential of marine systems depend on the interactions above mentioned, and are related in particular to food web properties. Overexploitation and climate change cause dramatic changes in marine systems, observable in species inventory change and in biodiversity decrease. All these variations threaten marine ecosystem stability and recovery potential and may lead to significant as well as irreversible changes in system characteristics and services. Connected to national and international research efforts, and by combining field observations and applied approaches, we intend to advance towards assessment and prediction of ongoing and future changes and their consequences for human populations along the Ecuadorian coast.