Workshop on Arctic microalgae taxonomy

Bente Edvardsen
University of Oslo

Minute microalgae are the grass of the sea, forming the nutritional basis for most of the marine life. Since consisting of a single cell only, these algae are only to be seen through a microscope and correspondingly difficult to identify to species level. Nansen Legacy researchers therefore met with other taxonomical experts in order to establish a common identification strategy for Barents Sea algae.

The two workshops took place at the Biological Station in Drøbak of the University of Oslo during two days in October 2018 and 2019. A total of 19 participants were gathered from six institutions (UiO, UiB, UiT, NTNU, NPI and IMR). In addition, international taxonomists participated from Canada, Poland, France, Germany and Norway.

The aim of the workshops was to jointly analyze samples from the northern Barents Sea and sea ice, in order to discuss species identification and to agree on a common taxonomy to be used within the Nansen Legacy. Such an agreement is essential for the success of the project, as scientists from many Nansen Legacy institutions will work with the identification of marine microalgae, and a common and sound taxonomy is therefore of utmost importance to ensure coherence in the project’s final data set. Participation of international experts in the workshops contributed further to an integration of the taxonomic work by the Nansen Legacy into a larger pan-Arctic context.