Summer School: Taxonomy of Marine Flora

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General information

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This Master’s-level summer course trains you to recognise and identify the typical marine algae in various coastal habitats. The organisms are studied in their environment during field trips to the habitats, and also in vivo back at the laboratory. These studies form the foundation from which the main issues in the systematics, biology, ecology and evolution of marine flora are addressed.

Given its location, the SBR offers many possibilities for studying the typical species in a wide range of habitats: rocky to sandy/muddy substrates, exposed to sheltered shores, etc.

The course includes

  • Fieldwork: Four field trips to very contrasting coastal and nearshore habitats are organised. Located within 30 km from Roscoff, the field sites are accessible during low tide. Samples from pelagic and subtidal environments are taken during an outing on one of the SBR’s vessels.
  • Practical coursework: in vivo observation of sampled species under a dissecting microscope or optical microscope to study the biological and taxonomic criteria presented during lectures. Each student has access to a microscope and a dissecting microscope during the whole course.
  • Exercises in using identification keys: Students have access to a number of specialised works and teaching documents designed for the course to identify the species collected during field trips. Students also have access to tools available on-line.
  • Lectures on the characteristics of the main phyla of seaweed: morphology, anatomy, reproduction, ecology, classification (including molecular phylogeny).

Topics addressed during the course:

  • Introduction to the systematics of the main groups of seaweed: phylogeny and taxonomy
  • Cytological, biochemical, ecological features of the main groups of seaweed: Green, red and brown seaweeds; diatoms and dinoflagellates are also briefly introduced
  • Reproductive features and life cycles of the main groups of seaweed


  • Exploration of various coastal habitats; rocky habitats (3 outings), sandy/muddy habitats (1 outing), subtidal and pelagic habitats (1 outing depending on the availabilty pf the vessel), analysis of typical species collected, identification in the field
  • Analysis of habitats and the effect of biotic and abiotic factors on species distribution (vertical zonation of seaweed, exposure to waves, nature of the substrate, etc.)Introduction to marine microalgae and marine plants diversity

Practical laboratories:

  • Observation of the distinctive characteristics of the main groups of seaweed (cytology, anatomy, reproduction) on live material
  • Practice in using species identification keys
  • Practice in preparing slides for observation under the microscope
  • Methods for cultivating seaweed in the laboratory

Independent study:

  • Students participate to a collaborative work to produce a list of species that grow in artificial habitats (leasure harbor, Roscoff)

Materials to bring:

  •     A dissection kit with the usual dissection tools (in particular, precision forceps, precision scissors, razor blades)
  •     a package of white paper (plain paper or Bristol paper for herbarium mounts of specimens), paintbrushes for smoothing out filamentous species and old, clean cloths or pieces of nylon stockings for blotting seaweeds
  •     a lab coat
  •     a pair of rubber boots for field outings, warm old clothes and rain gear
Learning outcome:

The course constitutes a solid knowledge base on

  • the systematics and identification of the major seaweed phyla and the marine species most frequently encountered on English Channel coasts;
  • methods for determining marine algal species down to the species level;
  • demonstration of morphological and functional features as well as the lifestyle of seaweeds on the coast;
  • characterisation of the main types of coastal and nearshore environments along with their typical species composition.

Course certification

The course is part of the University Pierre et Marie Curie Science of Universe, Environment , Ecology Masters program and the student can validate 6 ECTS units.
The course can be accredited by a Doctoral School.

Contact Person: Cécile Cabresin (


The highlighted icons, represent the fields of education (in compliance with ISCED Classification) engaged during this course/programme.

0831 - Fisheries", "1015 - Coastal and marine tourism", "0521 - Ecology


Venue: Station Biologique de Roscoff
Roscoff, France


Accommodation is available at the CNRS-operated Hôtel de France. Single or double rooms, according to availability.
From Monday to Friday, lunch is available at the Gulf Stream CNRS-operated restaurant.

FEES 2014
Room + breakfast: 11 € per night
Lunch: 4,10 € per me


Open from
1 Feb 2016 to 18 Mar 2016


Registration fee :   students 89,10€ ; professionals 900€

Accommodation:   Night- breakfast included: 11€  ; Meals : 4,10€ ; Access to an equipped kitchen is provided

Application Procedure:

This course is open 1rst year master students and superior level from French or foreign universities and thrird year undergraduate student if they can prove to have validated their exam before the beginning of the course
These summer schools are also open to continuing professionnal development trainees whose professionnal activities require knowledge in systematics, biology and marine ecology.

The Flora courses is given in english.

Registration for the Flora is handled after the application has been accepted by the head instructors.

Registration Fee for non UPMC students : 89,10€


Academic level: Master

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