ForBio and MEDUSA course: Evolution and Diversity of Meiobenthos

[This course has been tentatively rescheduled to 2021 due to the COVID-2019 pandemic. Application will be re-opened in 2021 following the national Russian and Norwegian guidelines on international travel.]

The University Museum of Bergen (University of Bergen, Norway), Moscow State University (Russia), and ForBio (Research School in Biosystematics) jointly offer an International Course on Evolution and Diversity of Meiobenthos.

Course funding

The course is co-financed by ForBio and the Cooperation Programme between Norway and Russia “Multidisciplinary EDUcation and reSearch in mArine biology in Norway and Russia” (MEDUSA) – funded by DIKU, the Norwegian Agency for International Cooperation and Quality Enhancement in Higher Education.

Course scope

                                      Image: G. Kolbasova, MSU

Meiofauna (organisms with size between 32 μm and 500 μm) plays fundamental role in marine ecosystems both in the coastal areas and in the deep sea being one of the most abundant and diverse components of marine benthic communities. The course aims to train students in methods used in sampling and identification of major groups of marine meiobenthos: nematodes, harpacticoid copepods, tardigrades, kinorynchs, gnathostomulids, priapulids, gastrotrichs, acoels, annelids, cnidarians, and molluscs. The course will include sampling in the intertidal zone and in the subtidal areas using the research fleet of WSBS, laboratory work covering sample processing and extraction techniques, taxonomical identification of selected groups, use of scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and confocal laser scanning microscopy (cLSM), molecular identification of selected organisms. Theoretical part of the course will include daily lectures on diversity of marine meiofauna, evolutionary processes such as progenesis and miniaturization taking place in the interstitial environment and ecological (species interactions) and biogeographical (meofaunal paradox) aspects in meiobenthic studies.

Assignment and credits

The course is equivalent to 4 ECTS. Details of the course assignment will be presented later. ForBio will provide certificates to those successfully completed the course assignment.

Course venue

White Sea Biological Station of the Moscow State University is a remote academic settlement located on the shore of the Kandalaksha bay of the White Sea just at the Polar Circle. The station has great sampling and laboratory facilities including a number of wet labs with marine aquaria, SEM, cLSM, molecular lab, and research fleet.

Teachers (to be confirmed for 2021)

Alexander Tzetlin, White Sea Biological Station, Moscow State University

Vadim Mokievsky, Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, Russian Academy of Sciences

Alexei Tchesunov, Department of Invertebrate Zoology, Moscow State University

Torsten Struck, Natural History Museum, University of Oslo

Andreas Schmidt-Rhaesa, Center of Natural History, University of Hamburg

Martin Vinther Sørensen, Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen

Rony Huys, Natural History Museum, London

Lesya Garlitska, Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, Russian Academy of Sciences

Daria Portnova, Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, Russian Academy of Sciences

Alexandra Petrunina, Department of Invertebrate Zoology, Moscow State University

Anna Zhadan, White Sea Biological Station, Moscow State University

Katharina Jörger, SNSB-Bavarian State Collection for Zoology

Sofia Pyataeva, Department of Invertebrate Zoology, Moscow State University

Glafira Kolbasova, White Sea Biological Station, Moscow State University

Nataliya Budaeva, University Museum of Bergen, University of Bergen


Min 12, max 18 students. Participants will be selected based on the registration form, which includes a paragraph for motivation and importance of the course for your study/work. Due to funding restrictions, the priority will be given to PhD students, MSc students and early postdocs.

Course fee

There is no course fee required from ForBio members or associates.  Find out about how to become a ForBio member/associate here.


Board (3 meals a day) - RUB600/day

Due to remoteness of the field station, vegetarian options will be available but not very diverse, students with strict vegetarian/vegan or other diet are advised to bring own protein supplements. Halal or kosher options unfortunately are not available. Please take contact in case of special dietary requirements.

Shared accommodation  - RUB500/night

Bed linen and towels - RUB200/set

Room cleaning after departure - RUB800 (one time payment)

Financial support

ForBio members and associates from Norway and Russian participants supported in full, including travel.

Accommodation and meals are covered for non-Norwegian ForBio members (i.e. MSc and PhD students from other Scandinavian countries).


Students are expected to arrive on September 16th and depart on September 27th. There will be one free day in the middle of the course. Travel from Murmanks or Kandalaksha will be organized and general support for travel logistics will be provided. 


Most of foreign participants will require Russian Visa. Official invitation letters will be issued by the Moscow State University but due to local regulations, this might take significant amount of time. Visa support will be provided but the accepted participants should submit all necessary information well in advance.


Participants are requested to arrange own travel/medical insurance valid in Russia. Non-Russian participants should send the proof of the insurance to the course organizers prior the course.


English with limited support in Russian

Contact  Nataliya Budaeva ( - ForBio coordinator and Alexandra Petrunina ( - coordinator from MSU

Published Dec. 13, 2019 12:46 PM - Last modified Oct. 2, 2020 11:27 AM