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International Polychaete Course 2011

White Sea Biological station of the M.V. Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia

07–20 September 2011

The White Sea Biological station (WSBS) of the M.V. Lomonosov Moscow State University offers 2-week field course in polychaete biology in September 2011.

The instructor team

  • Alexander Semenov (WSBS and M.V. Lomonosov Moscow State University, RUSSIA)
  • Dr. Alexanded Tzetlin (WSBS and M.V. Lomonosov Moscow State University, RUSSIA)
  • Dr. Anna Zhadan (WSBS and M.V. Lomonosov Moscow State University, RUSSIA)
  • Dr. Elena Kupriyanova (The Australian Museum, Sydney, AUSTRALIA)
  • Dr. Elena Vortsepneva (WSBS and M.V. Lomonosov Moscow State University, RUSSIA)
  • Dr. Fredrik Pleijel (The Sven Lovén Centre for Marine Sciences, Göteborg University, SWEDEN)
  • Dr. Greg Rouse (Marine Invertebrate Phylogeny Lab, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, USA)
  • Dr. Günter Purschke (Department of Zoology & Developmental Biology, Osnabrück, GERMANY)
  • Dr. Katrine Worsaae (Marine Biological Section, Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, DENMARK)
  • Dr. Ken Halanych (Auburn University, Alabama, USA)
  • Dr. Kristian Fauchald (National Museum of natural History, Smithsonian Institution, USA)
  • Dr. Nataliya Budaeva (P.P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanology Russian Academy of Sciences, RUSSIA)
  • Dr. Temir Britaev (A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution Russian Academy of Sciences, RUSSIA)


The White Sea Biological Station is located on the wild and scenic coast of Kandalaksha Bay of the White Sea (66° 34' N, 33° 08' E) exactly on the Polar Circle. It is a remote and isolated University settlement accessible only by boat from the nearest village Poyakonda. Poyakonda is connected to major cities by train: 21 hours from St. Petersburg, and 36 hours from Moscow. For information about the station see

Course description

The course will provide the participants with a unique opportunity to get on-hand experience in the field and laboratory study of polychaete diversity of the White Sea. The course will include one or occasionally two lectures each day, field trips (intertidal and onboard of research vessels using both trawling and scuba diving), instruction in the methods of polychaete sorting, fixation and preservation, laboratory study of living and preserved polychaetes (microscopy, dissecting and slide preparation), principles of zoological illustration (line drawing and digital photography), principles of alpha-taxonomy, determination of major taxa using taxonomic keys and demonstration of molecular methods used in modern zoology. Day lectures will provide introduction to the major groups of polychaetes of the White Sea. Theoretical evening lectures will be given on various aspects of polychaete biology, reproduction, evolution and phylogeny.

Applications are invited preferably from graduate students however well qualified undergraduate student as well as post-docs and researches interested in polychaetes that recently started their career, may also apply.

Language of instruction: ENGLISH. No formal test results are required (such as TOEFL), however, all applicants are expected to have good English language skills.

Student costs

Tuition: The course tuition is 15000 RUR, however, it may be partially covered by the WSBS, for students facing financial constraints.

WSBS provides dormitory accommodation for students enrolling in classes (rooms for 4–6 people) for free, however small compensation fees covering cleaning (about 600 RUR) and bed linen (about 300 RUR) are applicable to all WSBS visitors.
The full-board meal plan is obligatory for all persons living in dormitories. Full-board consists of three meals a day and costs about 300 RUR per day. Vegetarian options are not available, however fruits and vegetables may be ordered trough the local dining hall service.

Medical insurance
All students enrolled in the class are obligated to have personal medical insurance including medical evacuation coverage.

Travel from Moscow to WSBS:
Train, second class round trip fare:
Approximately 10000 RUR
Boat from Poyakonda to WSBS will be arranged for all participants for free.

All payments must be done in Russian Roubles (RUR).

International students are required to have entry visas to travel to the Russian Federation. Russian entry visas can be obtained at local Russian Embassy or Consulate. All supportive material will be sent upon acceptance to the course.

Financial aid
Students facing financial difficulties may apply for financial support from WSBS. Financial aid may include full or partial waiver of tuition. At this time we are unable to assist with transportation costs to Poyakonda.

Application process

Each applicant must submit:

  1. Cover page with personal data (please download from this web page, complete, sign, scan and return as TIF, JPEG or PDF file );
    application_polychaete_course_2011_new.doc  56.5 KB
    Application for polychaete course, 2011 (new)

  2. A one-page personal statement, describing how this course will help advance applicant's educational goals and career;
  3. Curriculum Vitae (please, do not include reprints);
  4. One letter of support from the person most familiar with applicant's work. Letter of support may be sent directly from the referee's e-mail address. Alternatively, a signed letter may be scanned and sent electronically by the applicant;
  5. Statement of financial need, if applying for support from the WSBS.

Complete applications should be sent electronically to the following e-mail address: with the following subject line: “Polychaete course + your last name”.

Maximum 12 students
Application deadline: March 31, 2011
Acceptance announcement: April 15, 2011

Applications will be acknowledged once they have been processed.

For additional information contact

Tentative Course schedule

Daily schedule: from 9:00 to 17:00 (up to 19:00) - sampling and lab work, from 21:00 to 22:00 evening lectures. The labs are always open and people can work there as long as they want. Normally we have breakfast from 8:00 to 9:00, lunch from 13:00 to 14:00, and dinner 20:00–21:00. The schedule will be determined by the tide table.

Day # Study hours 9:00 to 17:00 (up to 19:00) Evening lectures
Wed, Sept 7 Arrival, accommodation, excursion around the station (A. Tzetlin) Welcome party, Introductory lecture on the White Sea fauna and habitats; underwater videos, slide show. (A. Zhadan). Introductions of course participants.
Thu, Sept 8 Lecture: Polychaete diversity of the White Sea (A. Tzetlin).
Field trip: Intertidal collecting, habitat and locality documentation, labels, sample washing, processing, and sorting.
Lab: Techniques of relaxation, cleaning, fixation (chemicals for fixation and preservation). Introduction to microscopy (light, confocal, SEM, TEM) as tools for polychaete taxonomy (using one or two species) (A. Tzetlin, A. Zhadan).
Lecture 1
Fri, Sept 9 Lab: Zoological digital drawing demo (E. Kupriyanova).
Introduction to polychaete families. Polychaete identification to families.
Lecture 2
Sat, Sept 10 Field trip: trawling and dredging. Grab samples.
Lab: Introduction to Eunicida. Identification, drawing, dissection (N. Budaeva).
Lecture 3
Sun, Sept 11 Field trip: Ermolinskaya Bay.
Lab: Introduction to Terebellida. Identification, drawing, dissection (A. Zhadan).
Lecture 4
Mon, Sept 12 Lab: Observation of living animals. Digital photography demo (G. Rouse, A. Semenov & F. Pleijel).
Field trip: interstitial and meiobenthic polychates (Nerillidae, Dorvilleidae, Syllidae, Hesionidae).
Lab: Interstitial Annelida (K. Worsaae & A. Tzetlin).
Lecture 5
Tue, Sept 13 Lab: Anatomical diversity. Dissection of Arenicola, Ophelia, Travisia, Scalibregma, Flabelligera, Brada. (A. Tzetlin & A. Zhadan). Lecture 6
Wed, Sept 14 Day off – Social trip  
Thu, Sept 15 Lab: Introduction to Polynoidae. Identification, drawing, dissection of Harmothoe & Lepidonous (K. Fauchald). Lecture 7
Fri, Sept 16 Field trip: trawling and dredging.
Lab: Principles and methods of alpha-taxonomy: species descriptions and re-descriptions, synonymy, type specimens, classification, revisions. International Code of Zoological Nomenclature.
Lecture 8
Sat, Sept 17 Lab: Introduction to Phyllodocidae and Hesionidae. Identification, drawing, dissection (F. Pleijel). Lecture 9
Sun, Sept 18 Lab: Introduction of Sabellida. Identification, drawing, dissection (E. Kupriyanova). Lecture 10
Mon, Sept 19 Day without scheduled classes, it could be used for additional sampling, sorting and fixation of material.(Lab clean-up) , etc. Lecture 11 &
farewell party
Tue, Sept 20 Departure  

List of tentative topics for evening lectures

I. General intro
K. Fauchald. History of polychaete studies.

II. Biology of polychaetes
G. Rouse & E. Kupriyanova. Diversity and evolution of life histories (including reproduction and larval development).
E. Vortsepneva. Sexual dimorphism (dwarf and parasitic males).
T. Britaev. Biotic interactions (symbiotic polychaetes: morphological adaptations, diversity, interactions).

III. Unusual groups of polychaetes
G. Purschke. Terrestrial polychaetes.
G. Purschke. Unsegmented polychaetes.
G. Rouse. Histriobdellidae.
G. Rouse. Siboglinidae.
A. Zhadan. Pelagic polychaetes.

IV. Relationships, evolution and phylogeny of polychaetes
G. Rouse & F. Pleijel. Morphology-based phylogenetic studies: principles of cladistics, character coding in polychaete cladistic, importance of character losses.
K. Halanych. Molecular methods in polychaete phylogenetic studies.  Total evidence phylogenies, conflicts between molecular and morphological data.
G. Purschke. Topics in polychaete evolution (use of phylogenies to study ccharacter evolution, ground plan of annelid and appearance of the last common ancestor of annelids as evidenced by studies of  muscular and nervous systems, progenetic evolution).
K. Halanych & G. Purschke. Species concepts, speciation and cryptic species in polychaetes, problems of polychaete barcoding.

Supported by:


White Sea Biological Station


June 2019
Summer course on embryology of marine invertebrates


White Sea Biological Station, Poselok Primorskiy,
Republic Karelia, RUSSIA

Tel/fax: +7 (815) 33-64-516

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