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Dates: June 17, 2014 - July 1, 2014
Location: Bocas del Toro Research Station
Organizer: Dr. Rachel Collin
Registration Fee: $ 800 (includes STRI registration, room and board)


Rosana Rocha

Universidade Federal do Paraná, Brasil

Gretchen Lambert

University of Washington Friday Harbor Laboratories

Marco Corrales Ugalde

Universidad del Costa Rica

Course description:

The course is aimed at graduate students, post-docs, or professionals who are interested in learning and applying knowledge about the diversity and ecology of one of the most conspicuous organisms in tropical benthic marine ecosystems. The students participating in this course will:

-Learn to describe and identify the most common tunicates living on the mangroves and shallow coral reefs of the Bocas del Toro region
-Learn general biological and ecological characteristics of the group
-Gain hands-on ecological and taxonomic experience with tropical marine tunicates

Application: Please e-mail your CV, 1 letter of recommendation, and a 1-2 page statement explaining your background and reasons for taking the course, to before February 1st, 2014. Limit 12 students. To be considered for a need-based fellowship, applicants should send a description of their need, their efforts to obtain funding from other available sources, and a travel budget. For more information see:


Ana Carolina Bastos

UFRJ (Universidad Federal Rio de Janeiro)
I worked during my Master with the ecology of Antarctic ascidian assemblages assessing the spatial and bathymetric distribution of ascidians in relation to a gradient of exposure to water turbulence. I also analyzed the epibiosis relationships among these species. Although I’m currently working in a long term biomonitoring program on a Brazilian tropical bay, I intend to continue the study of Antarctic ascidians communities, on a PhD project. It may have an experimental approach on ascidian physiology and ecology in the context of climate changes.

Eva Maria Natzer

Natural History Museum Munich
I am currently working as a Scientific Manager of the Bavarian Natural History Collections in Munich, Germany.In my PhD, I have been working on tunic morphology in pharmaceutically relevant ascidians, esp. Polycitoridae, from the Mediterrranean and North Sea. I am interested in the tunic structure of solitary and colonial ascidians, tunic symbionts and general ascidian taxonomy and biogeography.

Francisca Andrea Oliveira

UFC (Universidade Federal do Ceará)
I am a PhD student at Universidade Federal do Ceará (Brazil). My goal is to estimate the phylogeny of ascidians (Didemnidae) based on both morphological and molecular characters. This study includes species from Brazil, Gulf of Mexico, French Polynesia and Hawaii. My research interests are taxonomy, systematics, and ascidian evolution.

Gaston Alurralde

Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Argentina
I'm a second year PhD student in the Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Argentina. As a part of ECLIPSE, a research project about global warming in Antarctica (, my project aims to study the benthic-pelagic coupling in an Antarctic coastal system affected by the thaw. My work focuses on filter-feeders species of Potter Cove, specially ascidians, since they abound in benthic community present there. Parallel to my PhD studies, I am involved in other ongoing projects of the Marine Ecology Department regarding to taxonomical and biogeographical studies of ascidians.

Isabela Monteiro Neves

UFPR (Univ. Fed. of Paraná)
"I expect with enthusiasm the possibility of working with live animals and visit the collection sites - it would provide some important new information for my future scientific productions. My specific goals with the course are: (a) to improve my description and identification skills (cooperating for my thesis), (b) to advance with my understanding of Tunicate's biological characteristics and (c) to be in touch with the ecological properties of Bocas Del Toro region. Moreover, it is a remarkable opportunity to meet and exchange experiences with other researchers and to extent contacts for future projects (such as the possibility of a doctorate abroad)."

Juan Jose Alvarado

University of Costa Rica (UCR)
"My name is Juan José Alvarado, I work at the University of Costa Rica (UCR) on the Biology School as a professor and at the Centro de Investigación en Ciencias del Mar y Limnología (CIMAR) as a researcher. My main interest is on coral reef ecology and conservation, working primarily with the interaction of echinoderms on this ecosystem, but also in building a monitoring system of the coral biotopes along the marine protected and non protected areas of my country. In this monitoring program, we asses the status of corals, fishes, algae and many invertebrate populations, where tunicates are a very important group with a big gap of knowledge, that we need to fill.."

Kristin Osborne

University of Massachusetts Boston
I am a third-year Ph.D. student at the University of Massachusetts Boston pursuing my degree in marine sciences. My research focuses on the physiological mechanisms of invasive marine tunicate success in polluted urban harbors of Massachusetts Bay. I am working on method development of toxicity bioassays for model toxicants present in the Bay and will also be exploring the effect of competition on the success of each species independently and together.

Luciana Granthom

National Museum/Federal University of Rio de Janeiro(MN/UFRJ)
I am a PhD student at the National Museum/Federal University of Rio de Janeiro(MN/UFRJ) in Brazil. The aim of my research is to describe the species of ascidians from the State of Rio de Janeiro and to assess the connectivity between the populations in terms of Rio de Janeiro and the Brazilian coastline.

Natalia Filip

St Francis Xavier University
I first fell in love with ascidians as a naïve undergraduate working with Botrylloides violaceous in British Colombia, Canada. Nowadays, I am completing a Masters Degree at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia. Aquaculture in Nova Scotia has been greatly affected by Ciona intestinalis, which quickly overgrow infrastructure and stock every year. My research focuses on testing novel non-toxic antifouling coatings that can be used in aquaculture sites to decrease C. intestinalis fouling. Outside work, my interests include rock climbing and SCUBA diving.

Nora Brown

University of Louisiana at Lafayette
I am a PhD candidate at the University of British Columbia working with Chris Harley and Thomas Therriault and am a member of the Canadian Aquatic Invasive Species Network. I am currently exploring the ecological impacts of ocean acidification on marine fouling communities. To date, I have conducted two baseline studies to understand recruitment and development of native communities under both experimentally manipulated and natural acidification (at a volcanic CO2 vent site). I have also explored the potential for acidification to facilitate ascidian invasion into these communities in field-based mesocosms. This year, I am planning to study the focal invasive species (Botryllus schlosseri), in the laboratory to identify tolerance thresholds of this ascidian to CO2 and its growth, reproduction, and settlement under acidification. By combining both experiments and observations on mixed species community development in the field with laboratory tolerance testing on the dominant invasive ascidian, I will gain an understanding of how invaded marine communities will respond to future acidification.

Stefania Gutierrez

Universidade de Sao Paulo
I am interesting in research about; Tunicates from Colombia, which have a great biodiversity and many endemic species, at Pacific Ocean and Caribbean, but the knowledge about it is lower. Then I like to study Apoptotic Process, Asexual reproduction and Regeneration in colonial tunicates.

Tamara Maggioni

National University of Córdoba
I´m currently engaged in the study of deep-sea ascidians from the South Western Atlantic Ocean: systematics, trophic ecology and community structure along a bathymetric gradient. I also count with some extra specimens from the deep-sea Antarctic Ocean. Greetings!