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Dates: July 9, 2014 - July 23, 2014
Location: Bocas del Toro Research Station
Organizer: Dr. Rachel Collin
Registration Fee: $ 800 (includes STRI registration, room and board)


Marcela Bolaños

Universidad de Cartagena

Sigmer Quiroga

Universidad de Magdalena in Santa Marta

Course description:

The order Polycladida is currently included among the lineage Rhabditophora, within the phylum Platyhelminthes, and represents a highly diverse clade of free-living marine flatworms. Polyclads are predators of commercially important bivalves and have a great potential for studies of regeneration, reproductive behavior in hermaphrodites, aposematic coloration and toxicity, isolation of pharmaceutical and active compounds, among others. However, because of the limited understanding of their biodiversity, they have received relatively little attention from researchers and students. In recent years, there has been a notable increase of interest in the taxonomy and life history of these animals, but unfortunately, the experts on the topic are scarce and training in their taxonomy is rarely available. The Taxonomy and Systematics of Tropical Polyclad Flatworms course will be an intensive two-week lecture and laboratory training designed for advanced undergraduate, graduate students, postdocs, and early career researchers involved in the field of taxonomy. The course is open to those who are working or who wish to work with the taxonomy of polyclads, or to students who are particularly interested in marine invertebrate biodiversity.

The course consists of daily lectures complemented by field trips and extensive laboratory sessions, in which the students will use the specimens collected to observe the key characters for identification at different levels of classification. Additionally, the students will read articles related with the topic which will be discussed in class. The course aims to: a) familiarize students with the current classification system for polyclads; b) provide each participant with the skills to identify the common tropical flatworms; and c) train participants in the methods and procedures used in polyclad collection, preservation, and identification.

The course is limited to 12 students and will be taught in English.

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. 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


Jie Wei-Ba

Marine Biology Institute (NSYSU)
I am a doctoral student of Marine Biology Institute, NSYSU in Taiwan. My main topic focuses on the research of taxonomy and behavior of marine polyclad flatworms of Taiwan. There is more than 150 specimens has been collected and carefully preserved in museum. Piles of photographs are taking since 2004 from intertidal and subtidal zone of Taiwan. Attending the class in STRI well be the most greatest thing I do in my study career.

Ximena Velazquez

Tel Aviv University
I am a Marine Biologist from Colombia. I am currently doing my Master’s degree in zoology at Tel Aviv University. During my undergraduate studies I became fascinated by marine polyclad flatworms and I developed a research project on embryonic development and reproductive strategies of different species found in the Colombian Caribbean. Upon completion of my BSc, I decided to continue working with this taxon as I was excited by other fields in which these flatworms have enormous potential. In Israel, this group have been overlooked with a consequent lack of experts in their taxonomy and the data available on polyclad fauna is limited. The goal of my master research is to study the species composition and distribution of polyclad flatworms from the Israeli Mediterranean and Red Sea coasts. As a researcher, I consider this course to be an important tool to expand my knowledge and experience in this area and a perfect opportunity to meet new people who are interested in studying free living flatworms.

Maleja Padilla Hernandez

Mariela Ramos Sanchez

Universidad del Mar (Mexico)
El interés por los policládidos, surgió mientras llevaba a cabo un trabajo semestral, sobre taxonomía de invertebrados, para una material del curso de la carrera en la cual estoy inscrita, que es Biología Marina, el interés partió de la observación de los organismos en una salida de campo, de los cuales me llamo la atención los tamaños, formas y colores que llegan a presentar estos organismos y los ambientes y sustratos en los cuales pueden llegarse a encontrar; así como la complejidad y el reto que representan trabajar con ello, aunado al propósito dar a conocer la diversidad de policládidos que existe en la región de la costa central de Oaxaca, lugar en donde vivo.

Gan Bin Qi

Nationtal University of Singapore
My main interest is the taxonomy of free-living, marine Polycladida, by using histology techniques to determine their systematic relationships. It has been a year since I have begun studying flatworm diversity in Singapore. My interest in this group has broadened to involve research related to the reproduction and embryonic developments of different species of polyclads.

Daniel Marquina

Complutense Univeristy of Madrid
I am a Msc student researcher at the National Museum of Natural Sciences (Madrid, Spain). I am interested in the taxonomy, phylogeny and evolution of Polycladida. My research has been mainly focused on polyclad biodiversity along the coasts of the Iberian Peninsula, with the description of some new species, and I am now starting with molecular systematics. For my MSc thesis, I plan to study the validity of identifications of Pseudoceros and Pseudobiceros species through colour pattern, using mithocondrial DNA sequences as genetic markers. I am also interested in other evolutionary processes that have occurred within the Order Polycladida.

Marcelo Elizondo

University of Costa Rica
I just finish my bachelor en Biology these year, and started working as a interpreter and naturalist guide. Now I´m looking forward a post-grad in environmental education. Although, since I had my Invertebrates course, flatworms have amaze me. It intrigue me the live of these beings, and wonder their ecological role, and let people know how they affect the rest of the reef community.Right now I have no project on polyclad, apart from a collection that I have realized in the past.

Maria Victoria Leon

Juliana Bahia

I am a PhD student at Ludwig-Maximilian Universität München, and work at the Zoologische Staatssammlung München in Germany. I am Brazilian and my main interests are Marine Biology, Zoology and Biogeography. I have worked on marine Biological Invasions and then focused my work on polyclads. So my specific interests are polyclad taxonomy, biology, ecology and biodiversity, especially of species from Brazil. My thesis focuses on Brazilian poyclad biodiversity and on possible cryptic species complexes in Polycladida.

Reshma Pitale

Bombay Natural History Society, India
I am a zoologist and doctoral student from Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), India. Seascape features of the western coast of India, in the state of Maharashtra, which is my current working area, are dominated by vast inter-tidal areas. My individual interest is in the marine invertebrate taxonomy with particular focus on polyclad flatworms. I could put together both these interests during the surveys with BNHS along with study of polyclad taxonomy. The BNHS’S initiatives involve teamwork to carryout preliminary surveys for documenting biodiversity and creating baseline from these intertidal areas. There is a selected set of faunal groups for which taxonomic analysis is carried out. Thus precise documentation, collection and preservation are conducted and study has been started on polyclad flatworms. Objectives of the proposed study involve documentation of polyclad diversity with respect to specific habitat types. Literature survey clearly indicates the major gap of (more than 100 years) in polyclad research from Indian waters. The present study aims to gather detailed knowledge about polyclad assemblages by creating baseline information.