Taxonomy of Marine Flora

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General information

This Master’s-level summer course trains you to recognise and identify the typical marine algae in various coastal habitats. Situated at the cross-roads of two biogeographical provinces, the Roscoff area is an extraordinary site that harbours one of the most biodiverse temperate marine flora in the world. 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).
  • The course also includes visits to cultural sites and to businesses centred on seaweed (utilisation, cultivation, commercialisation). Professionals from these organisations are also invited to give talks.

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), 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.).

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: creation of a ‘fact sheet’ on a chosen species detailing and illustrating its morphological, cytological and ecological characteristics, using samples collected during field outings and personal observations.

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.
Contact Person: Cécile Cabresin (Administrative Coordinator) (


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Venue: Station Biologique de Roscoff
Roscoff, France

Place Georges Teissier 
29680 Roscoff


  • Registration Fee for non UPMC students 55,10€. 
  • 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 (Fees2014, Room + breakfast: 11€ per night / Lunch: 4,10€ per meal).


This course is open to 3rd year undergraduate students, 1rst year master students and superior level from French or foreign universities. These summer schools are also open to continuing professionnal development trainees whose professionnal activities require knowledge in systematics, biology and marine ecology.

Application Procedure:

To register please fill in and return your application form to Download the application form "Summer schools 2015". The application must be returned along with:

  • Exam results of the last 2 semesters
  • Copy of passport
  • Copy of a valid student card for the year 2014/2015
  • Health insurance statement
  • Civil liability statement
  • Identity photo

Additionally, send the application and relevant documents by post to:  
Station Biologique de Roscoff  / UPMC, Service enseignement, Place Georges Teissier CS 90074, 29688 Roscoff cedex. France

Registration Deadline: 3rd of April 2015


Academic level: Master, PhD, Lifelong Learning

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