ForBio, STI and NBIC course: Diversity, ecology and biosystematics of alpine lichens and associated fungi (Ascomycota & Basidiomycota) in Norway

ForBio with the support of the Swedish Taxonomy Initiative and the Norwegian Biodiversity Information Centre invites to a 5-day field course on alpine lichens and associated fungi (Ascomycota & Basidiomycota). The course will be held in the Dovre Mountain area, a biodiversity hotspot in Central Norway between Trondheim and Oslo.

Glypholecia scabra (Photo: Andreas Frisch, CC-BY-SA 4.0.)

Lichens is a fascinating and species-rich functional group within the fungal kingdom. They are stable symbiotic organisms comprising one fungus (mycobiont) and up to two photosynthetic partners (photobionts), a green alga and/or a cyanobacterium. The majority of species belongs to the phylum Ascomycota, while few species belong to the Basidiomycota. Lichens are common and often abundant in alpine communities on rocks and open soils as well as in subalpine epiphyte communities on trees and shrubs. As such, they contribute significantly to the overall biodiversity in mountain habitats in Norway and form an integral element of the ecosystem.

 Epicladonia lapponica on Pleopsidium chlorophanum (Photo: Andreas Frisch, CC-BY-SA 4.0.)
Epicladonia lapponica on Pleopsidium chlorophanum
(Photo: Andreas Frisch, CC-BY-SA 4.0.)

In addition to the symbiotic partners, lichens are often inhabited by other parasitic, parasymbiotic, or saprophytic fungi that are collectively named lichenicolous fungi or lichen parasites. Like their lichen hosts, they overwhelmingly belong to the Ascomycota and less often to the Basidiomycota. Lichenicolous fungi are typically host specific and found on a single species or a few taxonomically related species of lichens only. As slow colonisers, they are most diverse in places with a long ecological continuity and, hence, useful indicators for habitats of high conservation value. As opposed to lichens, lichenicolous fungi are poorly studied in Norway.

In this field course, we will introduce the rich diversity of lichens and lichenicolous fungi in one of Norway’s biodiversity hotspots, the Dovre Mountain area south of Trondheim. Dovre is a rich landscape with a large proportion of basic to calcareous bedrock that harbors many interesting and rare species.

The course will cover the following themes:

  • Species knowledge on characteristic lichens and lichenicolous fungi in mountain habitats (field and laboratory)
  • Field sampling techniques and identification of lichens and lichenicolous fungi
  • Preservation techniques and labelling of scientific collections
  • Databasing and online resources
  • Phylogeny and biosystematics of lichens and lichenicolous fungi
  • DNA barcoding and molecular identification

The course is suitable for students and early-career researchers who want to learn more about this fascinating group of fungi. Basic background knowledge on fungal biology and morphology is advisable to fully appreciate the course program.


Andreas Frisch, NTNU University Museum, Trondheim.

Mika Bendiksby, Natural History Museum, University of Oslo & NTNU University Museum.

Einar Timdal, Natural History Museum, University of Oslo.

Paul Diederich, National Natural History Museum, Luxembourg

Valerii Darmostuk, Institute of Botany, Polish Academy of Science

Ann Evankow, Natural History Museum, University of Oslo.

Maximum number of participants: 12 students. In case of more applicants, ForBio will select participants based on the scientific, educational and/or professional merit, motivation, and usefulness of the course for the applicants, with priority given to ForBio members. ForBio will announce the results of the selection process via e-mail shortly after the application deadline.

Target group: PhD students, master students, postdocs, researchers, consultants, and government officials with relevant background in biology.

Working language: English.

Assignment and credits: The field course alone is equivalent to 2 ECTS. For participants wanting to obtain 3 ECTS, completion of an additional assignment is required. This topic-related assignment will be distributed 4-5 weeks prior to course start-up. ForBio will provide certificates for those who follow the full-length of the field course and successfully complete the course assignment.

Course venue and accommodation will be at Frich’s Hjerkinnhus close Hjerkinn train station.

Registration: Please complete the online application form here. Costs for participation (travel, shared accommodation, and food) for ForBio members (PhD students, MSc students, and postdocs) affiliated with institutions in Norway will be covered by ForBio. Other applicants will need to secure their own funding to cover travel, accommodation, and food for the course duration. There are no course fees.

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

Application deadline: April 15, 2022

Contact: Andreas Frisch, for course content and on-site logistics. Elisabeth Stur, ForBio coordinator, for practicalities and more information.

Published Jan. 26, 2022 4:56 PM - Last modified Oct. 7, 2022 11:25 AM