ForBio and NIBIO field course: Genetic monitoring of arctic plant-insect networks

ForBio invites applicants to the course Genetic monitoring of arctic plant–insect networks. The course will be arranged at the NIBIO Svanhovd Research Station in Finnmark, and will include one day field work with an overnight stay at the Varanger Peninsula, Norway.
Ongoing climate change will lead to massive shifts in arctic ecosystems in the coming decades. Northward movements in the distributions of plant species will directly influence the functioning of species-rich networks consisting of plants, insect herbivores, and parasitoids, and may disrupt specialized interactions between plants and their pollinators. Inference of interspecific relationships in hyperdiverse networks is difficult using traditional taxonomic methods, but new molecular-genetic approaches based on DNA barcoding and metabarcoding technologies provide new, cost-efficient tools for inferring network structures and for monitoring changes in communities. 
The following topics will be discussed:
1.    Composition of the flora in the main vegetation zones of the forest–tundra ecotone in northern Fennoscandia, with a particular focus on subarctic birch forest, species-rich willow-shrub tundra, and arctic tundra.
2.    Effects of habitat and plant species on the diversity and community structures of herbivores, parasitoids, and pollinators.
3.    The uses of DNA barcoding for inferring relationships between plants and pollinators, plants and herbivores, and herbivores and parasitoids.
4.    Methods for sampling insects and monitoring community structures in different habitats.
5.    Metabarcoding methods for large-scale monitoring arctic insect communities.
6.    Causes and consequences of moth outbreaks in subarctic birch forests.
7.    The future of arctic insect communities in a changing climate.
Provided skills:
Students will receive hands-on training in sampling and identification of plants and insects in different habitats in the northern forest–tundra ecotone, as well as an understanding of the uses of the latest genetic methods in research on the structure and functioning of arctic plant–herbivore–parasitoid and plant–pollinator networks. This field course provides a good complement for ForBio courses on barcoding and metabarcoding methods.
Required skills: 
Basic knowledge in biodiversity science, with at least a Bachelor in biology. Experience with entomology, botany, and/or molecular genetics is an advantage. Students are expected to read a selection of scientific papers in advance in order to familiarize themselves with research on network ecology and the basic principles of barcoding and metabarcoding methods.
Tommi Nyman, NIBIO,; Andy Sortland, UiT; Galina Gusarova,TMU,; Carlos Lopez-Vaamonde INRA, Marko Prous, UT (additional lecturers will be announced at a later stage)
Maximum number of participants: 16 students – in case of more applicants, participants will be selected based on the scientific, educational and/or professional merit, motivation and usefulness of the course for the applicants, with priority given ForBio members. Results of the selection process will be announced via e-mail shortly after the application deadline.
Target group: PhD students, master students, postdocs, researchers, consultants, government officials with relevant background in biology.
Working language: English
The schedule of the course and important practical information are available here. 

Assignment and credits: The course is equivalent to 2 ECTS (or 3 ECTS if an additional written report is completed after the course). ForBio will provide certificates of attendance stating the number of credits.

Financial aid: Participation of the Norwegian-affiliated students/researchers will be covered by ForBio. Other applicants will need to secure own funding to cover travel to Svanhovd field station, as well as accommodation and subsistence for the course duration. 

Registration:  Please fill in the online application here.

Find out about how to become a ForBio member/associate here.

Application deadline: June 15, 2020.

Contact: Galina Gusarova (ForBio) or Tommi Nyman (NIBIO Svanhovd) for more information. More information can also be found here:

Published Jan. 15, 2020 11:53 AM - Last modified May 29, 2020 12:51 PM