Marine Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning
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Training website
Training website

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Providing specialist training

A key product of MarBEF will be a new generation of professional marine ecosystem scientists for Europe. MarBEF's research programme has identified a set of high priority topics as requiring support at the postgraduate level, being:
  • Postdoctoral fellowships
    We will create five postdoctoral fellowships which will last for the full duration of MarBEF. One will be allocated to integration activities within each of the scientific research themes, and two will work in the overall integrated activities programme (one of these being dedicated to data and information management).
  • Doctoral studentships
    In the second phase of MarBEF a series of responsive work package proposals will be considered and prioritised for their scientific excellence and relevance to the MarBEF programme. We envisage that the main resources provided by MarBEF towards the successful projects will be the expertise and facilities of the network plus PhD studentships. The work of all doctoral students will be supervised by an international panel, and each student will carry out research at a minimum of two different MarBEF institutions based in different countries. The total number of PhD studentships will be determined by the quality and requirements of the successful responsive proposals.
  • Training of technicians
    There is an urgent and increasing need for cross training of technicians in novel methods, in standardised sampling procedures and in experimental protocols. This is especially important for MarBEF given the large scale coverage of our proposed research. We will hold standardisation workshops for technicians and researchers as part of the Strategic Research Programmes.
We will also assess the demand for further training courses and we will issue a call for proposals for other highly specialist training, in order to assess supply. These proposals will be considered by the Steering Committee and a management group responsible for training under our Spreading of Excellence programme.


MarBEF will offer a small suite of existing courses of immediate use to the network's objectives to cover the increasing demand for taxonomic work because of the high scientific and political profile of biodiversity issues, and the recognised shortage of expertise (Taxonomic Impediment). These will serve also as pilot courses and, together with a list of existing courses, will serve as examples to elicit demands for similar or other training topics and formats from participants, the NoE members and the wider marine community to develop the long-term training strategy for the NoE.

Description of work

Task 1: Specialist training
The following specialist training courses will be organised in the first year:

  1. Phytoplankton Taxonomy [highly successful existing course on marine phytoplankton taxonomy and systematics] coordinated by SZAD, Naples, Italy, in collaboration with AWI
  2. Copepod biology and systematics [Highly successful existing one week course on marine copepods] coordinated by NHM, London, UK and held at the University of Bizerta in Tunisia, in collaboration with the World Association of Copepodologists.
  3. Phylogeny and taxonomy of microorganisms [ARB course using a 16S and 23 S rRNA database] coordinated by MPI for Marine Microbiology, Bremen, Germany in collaboration with the Technical University in Munich.
    Molecular phylogeny provides a stable framework to address the diversity of organisms. The understanding of the basic principles of sequence alignment and phylogenetic tree reconstruction is therefore essential. Within the workshops we start with an introduction to the theory of phylogenetic tree reconstruction and probe design followed by an 'hands-on' experience on phylogenetic treeing using the freely available software package ARB.
  4. Flow cytometry and marine environmental research [methods based course] coordinated by SZAD, Naples, Italy.

Task 2: Develop long term strategy for training of specialists
During this period we will also develop our long-term training strategy which assesses demand for further training. We will produce a list of existing courses, assess future demand, identify new training topics and formats through a structured questionnaire on the website. Then we will match this demand with proposals from MarBEF members.


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