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Dates: May 7, 2012 - May 19, 2012
Location: Bocas del Toro Research Station
Organizer: Dr. Rachel Collin


Dr. Suzanne Fredericq

Dr. Wilson Freshwater

Dr. Brian Wysor

Course description:

This course is designed to orient participants to the biodiversity of tropical marine floras through field and laboratory work. Specifically, it will emphasize the development or enhancement of practical skills essential for identification, characterization and preservation of tropical marine macroalgae (seaweeds). Sampling forays in diverse environments (e.g., mangrove habitats, seagrass beds, coral reefs, sponge communities) on protected and exposed shorelines throughout the Bocas del Toro Archipelago will complement morphological and molecular investigations in the laboratory.

  • Morphological investigation will emphasize the preparation of specimens for microscopic examination and the interpretation of vegetative and reproductive structures in living material in the light of published observations from the primary literature. Participants will contribute to the development of the Bocas del Toro Biodiversity Inventory ( and the development of a bi-lingual field guide to the local marine flora through the production of individual species pages documenting microscopical and field observations (e.g., Lobophora variegata).
  • Molecular investigation will emphasize sampling and preservation of material for subsequent analysis of DNA sequences for barcoding, phylogenetic and biogeographical studies. Data derived from this part of the class will contribute to the Bocas del Toro Barcode of Life Project.

The course will be taught in English.


Carolina Azevedo

Universidade de Sao Paulo (USP)
My research interests are diversity, taxonomy and ecology of seaweeds, specially red algae. Currently, I'm a phD student at Universidade de São Paulo and my research focuses on diversity and phylogeny of Halymeniales (Rhodophyta) at Brazilian coast, through traditional and molecular techniques.

Pedro Bastos

Universidade Federal do Ceará
I am currently a staff member of a macroalgae laboratory at the Federal University of Ceará - northeast Brazil. My job includes curating the Phycological Herbarium of that instituion and developing research on ecology and taxonomy of seaweeds. I have experience with population and community ecologies, including: distribution patterns, fauna and flora interactions and productivity measures.

Carlos Bohorquez

University of Newcastle. Australia
I am marine biologist, previous to begin my Ph. D. studies in Australia; I was working as teacher on environment topics in different education institutions in Colombia. Actually I am interested in seaweed biodiversity, environmental triggers in morphological and physiological characteristics of the seaweeds and genetic markers to understand differences in populations and to identify invasive seaweeds.

Martha Calderon Rios

San Marcos National University
I am from Peru and I have a Bachelor in Biological Sciences at San Marcos National University, Lima. I have an enormous interest in taking this course because I am always in constant apprenticeship and I deem that this course will increase my concepts and knowledge in phycology . The lack of studies in my country has provided me with inspiration as well as gives me different kind of ideas to improve the biodiversity seaweeds knowledge and for my dissertation research, which is titled as: “Genus Grateloupia on the coast of Peru” which has as main aim evaluate the utility of auxiliary cell ampullae characteristics in the identification of Grateloupia species

William Gardiner

University of Louisiana at Lafayette
I am a NSF REU student currently working as a sophomore at The University of Louisiana at Lafayette in Dr. Suzanne Fredericq’s laboratory. Although my phycological journey is only just beginning, the past two years have provided me with many new and exciting experiences, ranging from research experience in the lab, to collecting algal samples at the Liquid Jungle Lab in Panama. Right now, I am helping my colleagues with their research involving the molecular systematics of seaweeds from Panama and also from the Gulf of Mexico in order to assess the effects of the BP oil spill two years ago. I am always looking for opportunities and experiences to help expand my mind and refine my skills as I find my place in the scientific world, and I know that this course will provide me these tools. I am also a very involved student on UL’s campus, and I love music, traveling, and meeting new people.

Jazmin Hernandez-Kantun

National University of Ireland, Galway
I am a PhD candidate at the National University of Ireland, Galway. I am interested on the evolution, taxonomy and ecology of free-living coralline algae (Corallinales) known as maërl or rhodoliths. Maërl-forming species (Corallinales) can accumulate over time in one area and their bodies create a suitable habitat for animals and other marine plants. I am focus on rhodolith beds in Europe, Gulf of California and Mexican Caribbean waters. My research interests are centered on the molecular diversity, space/time interactions and distribution of this species. I would like to get baseline information and continue my research on this import habitat-forming species.

Noemi Leon

Universidad de Panamá
I´m a biologist graduated from the University of Panama interested in marine botany, especially phycology. Given the huge impact that generated the emergence of the Isthmus of Panama and the Canal´s construction, it is extremely interesting to know how these events have impacted the ecology, distribution and phylogeny among taxa of macroalgae in Panama. My research interests are diversity and phylogeny of Dictyotales (Phaeophycceae) of Panama, furthermore I have knowledge in taxonomy of the others group of algae present in my country.

Carolina Matula

National University of Mar del Plata
I am a last year student of Biological Sciences at the National University of Mar del Plata, Argentina. I am developing a thesis about the taxonomic identification of Ahnfeltiopsis devoniensis, new introduced red algae in Mar del Plata and its effects on flora and fauna of the benthic communities. Also I have researched taxonomic identification of two introduced species of macroalgae, Schizymenia dubyi and the invasive kelp Undaria pinnatifida. I am especially eager to expand my knowledge in the identification, characterization and biogeography of macroalgae to later perform a survey of marine flora in Argentina.

Maria Paula Raffo

Universidad Nacional del Comahue
I am María Paula Raffo, a PhD student from Universidad Nacional del Comahue and my work place is the Centro Nacional Patagonico (CENPAT CONICET) in Patagonia Argentina. I am particularly interested in doing research on algal taxonomy, ecology and invasive species. My current doctoral research focuses on the study of the biodiversity of native and exotic seaweeds in coastal-intertidal environments of Patagonia and the ecological effects of introduced seaweed species on native biodiversity. As part of this study, I am trying to solve the taxonomy of some species that have not yet been studied in detail, to establish their status as exotic or native species.

Joseph Richards

University of Louisiana at Lafayette
I am a PhD student studying seaweed biology at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. My dissertation research is focused on the systematics of the marine red algal family Delesseriaceae, and I am currently working on samples collected from hardbank communities in the NW Gulf of Mexico and from Caribbean Panama. I am also studying macroalgal community composition in the NW Gulf of Mexico since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill along with the other members of my lab.

Nestor Robinson

University of Baja California Sur, Mexico
I am a Msc Student at the University of Baja California Sur from Mexico. Nowadays I am developing a thesis about the taxonomy of coralline algae that forms rhodoliths in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, I am interested in the taxonomy and systematic of read seaweeds, especially in the family Rhodomelaceae, in the future, I wanna work with molecular biology of red seaweeds, biogeography, and taxonomy of some complex genus like Polysiphonia, and Laurencia.

Yusimi Alfonso Sanchez

National Aquarium of Cuba
I am very interested in gaining a better understanding of advanced taxonomic skills, specifically molecular techniques such as barcoding. I would like to be able to apply these skills to assist in determining contributions of Cuban macroalgae. Furthermore, reconstruction of phylogenies using both, molecular and morphological information, are subjects of my interest for future investigations too. Actually I'm completing my graduate studies to obtain a Master Degree in Science in Marine Biology, with Mention in Marine Ecology, at the University of Havana. My thesis is about the state of marine algae in different collections placed all over the country. I have made, likewise, flora studies mainly inreefs, and soft bottoms of Cuba. In a more detailed study on the systematics and I have dealt with several genera, such as Avrainvillea, Penicillus and Udotea.

Marina Sissini

Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC), Brazil
I am a MS student at Federal University of Santa Catarina - southern Brazil. My research focuses in a family of coralline algae, the Hapalidiaceae (Corallinales, Rhodophyta), of the subtropical Southern Atlantic Ocean (SAO). The main goals are to investigate, identify and describe the species that occur in the study area from conventional methodologies of identification, allied with molecular biology, discussing the diversity observed with respect to macroecological aspects regarding the development of the SAO.

Tye Kindinger

Oregon State University
I am a PhD student at Oregon State University in Dr. Mark Hixon's lab. My lab studies the ecological effects of invasive Pacific red lionfish (Pterois volitans) throughout Caribbean coral reefs. My research focuses on the top-down indirect effects of invasive lionfish on benthic reef communities. Specifically, I am investigating whether this invasive marine fish is driving a lionfish-herbivore-macroalgae trophic cascade in the Bahamas, which could ultimately structure benthic communities and potentially influence alternative stable states on reefs. It is imperative to understand the extent at which invasive lionfish can indirectly affect macroalgae, which could consequently have direct negative effects on corals and coral reef ecosystems throughout the invaded range.

Yuriley Nuñez

University of Panama
I am a currently a student enrolled at the Bachelor Science in Biology at the University of Panama making my final work, in order to obtain my Degree. One of my interests in participating of the Field Course of Tropical Phycology is to improve my abilities in identifying marine macro algae, in order be updated about recent changes in taxonomy and systematics, and have a better understanding about the values of biodiversity in Panama. Also, it will give me tools to make my thesis and review of the marine ecosystems on the Caribbean side