Understanding the diversity of life and the complex interactions with the environment remains one of the great challenges to science and society alike. In our struggle to mitigate the consequences of global change, the need to close the knowledge gaps in the global causes and consequences of biodiversity variation has been recognized at high political level such as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) or in national biodiversity strategies.

However, for marine ecosystems we still lack a general understanding of the response of biodiversity to climate change and anthropogenic impacts on the environment, of the consequences of this response for marine ecosystem functions and services, and of the conservation and management strategies alleviating these consequences. To meet these challenges at a level of international excellence and thereby transform marine biodiversity research in Germany, the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) and Oldenburg University (UOL) established in May 2017 the Helmholtz Institute for Functional Marine Biodiversity at the University of Oldenburg (HIFMB).