Phylogenetic Systematics and Evolution

Norwegian-Swedish Research School in Biosystematics

Norwegian Natural History Museums join forces with Swedish institutions to establish research schools in biosystematics

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by Christiane Todt and Endre Willassen, May 2010

ForBio activities

The first annual ForBio student meeting

The first meeting will take place in Bergen, February 1-2, 2011. Download programme and abstracts (Contact: Christiane Todt, UoB)

ForBio courses 2010

August 2010: Field course in entomology, lichenology and bryology at Skibotn, Troms County, Norway, 2-6 August 2010. (Contact: Jarle W. Bjerke, UoT)

September 2010: Marine Macrofauna of Sweden - An advanced faunistics and taxonomy course at the Lovén Centre for Marine Sciences, Tjärnö, Sweden, 8- 17 September 2010. (Contact: Christiane Todt, UoB). Download flyer.

December 2010: Theory and practical course “Species delimitation based on molecular data.Gothenburg, Sweden. (Contact: Magnus Popp, UoO). Flyer.

Regular university courses 2010 open for ForBio students

October 2010: “Phylogenetic methods”, UiB BIO332. Introduction to phylogenetic computing. Contact: Endre Willassen, UoB. Download flyer.




In biosystematics we discover, identify, describe, name, classify and catalogue life forms. This involves recording plant and animal diversity, life histories, spatial and geographical distributions and investigating evolutionary history and phylogenetic relationships. Biosystematics thus includes biological disciplines such as taxonomy, systematics, phylogenetics, biogeography, and biodiversity research.

A new research school - ForBio

To meet the increased demand for biodiversity estimates, species inventories, and description and classification of new species, we need well-trained taxonomists. The current challenges have to be approached by combining long-term established methods with the most recent advances: modern taxonomists do not only have to have identification skills but must also be trained in molecular techniques, phylogenetic approaches, up-to-date microscopy and illustration techniques, and databasing.

ForBio aims to advance biosystematics education for students and postdocs working in the fields of botany and zoology. Courses are also open for associates working in the fields of taxonomy, biodiversity research and biosystematics.

What does the research school provide?

  1. Practical courses (field and laboratory) on a high educational level that complement the courses offered by Norwegian and Swedish universities
  2. Theory courses that present the latest development and status of knowledge in the field
  3. A better overview over biosystematics-related courses given at the universities cooperating with the research school
  4. A network of colleagues (both students, postdocs, and senior scientists) working in biosystematics
  5. A forum to present and discuss results of work in progress (e.g., PhD projects)

Who can participate in ForBio activities?

The research school targets PhD students and postdoctoral fellows at Norwegian and Swedish universities, but to participate in a ForBio course you do not have to meet this criterium. We encourage also non-student taxonomists/systematists to take part in the courses and these can become associates of the research school. In any case, you have to provide documentation that your level of knowledge is high enough to follow the respective course. Everybody has to apply for participation using an application form provided for each course. Members of the research school have highest priority to fill the courses.

How to become a member of the research school?

To become a member you have to be a student at a Norwegian or Swedish university and you have to participate in at least one of the offered courses and in the yearly ForBio meeting.

Are there any costs connected to participation in meetings or courses?

For members and associates, the research school takes all the costs.

Will my university grant study points for a ForBio course participation?

The courses follow Norwegian-Swedish regulations and thus they can be an integral part of your PhD studies. For international students, your university will be provided with all necessary information but we advise you to check with your university administration first.

Which language are the courses given in?

To keep an international profile, English will be the official teaching language of all courses. Should all students and participants be Scandinavians, they may agree to speak Norwegian/Swedish. 

How to apply for a ForBio course?

You have to fill out a short application form that will be provided with the respective course announcments/invitations. Links to those announcements will be activated 2-3 months prior to each course. You may also contact the course organizer personally.

How to sign in for the yearly ForBio student meeting?

The next meeting is scheduled for October 2010. Contact: Christiane Todt.

Contact information

University of Bergen, Bergen Museum, The Natural History Collections

contact: Christiane Todt (tel: +47 55584491, e-mail: Christiane.Todt@bio.uib.no )

University of Oslo, Natural History  Museum, National Centre for Biosystematics

contact: Magnus Popp (tel: +47 22851614, e-mail: magnus.popp@nhm.uio.no)

Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU Trondheim), Museum of Natural History:

contact: Hans K. Stenøien (tel: +47 73592284, e-mail: stenoien@ntnu.no )

University of Tromsø, Tromsø Museum

contact: Jarle W. Bjerke (tel: +47 77645052, e-mail: jarle.bjerke@uit.no)


ForBio is financially supported by The Norwegian Taxonomy Initiative (The Norwegian Biodiversity Information Centre) and by the Research Council of Norway (NFR)


External links

Artsdatabanken  - The Norwegian Biodiversity Information Centre


ArtDatabanken - Swedish Species Information Centre


United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity


United Nations International Year of Biodiversity