Pediastrum biradiatum copyright Peter York

Freshwater Algae Training Courses

About the courses

Durham laboratory copyright Peter York
microscopy  at Durham copyright Peter York
Course fieldwork copyright Peter York

Courses usually take place during the first half of July and are held at Hild-Bede College and the School of Education, University of Durham. The introductory course takes 5 days and the advanced courses are normally 3 days. You are advized to book a place for the introductory course by April. A deposit of £25 is required for members who cannot supply an official request from their organization.

Courses consist of lectures, practicals and one or more field visits. A typical day includes three formal lectures, practicals, and a further lecture or more informal discussion in the evening if the course is residential. There is plenty of opportunity for members to raise their particular problems and the concluding discussion helps to put the whole subject in perspective.

We loan books during the course, supply expendable items and provide each participant with documentation containing information on many of the topics covered: widespread and nuisance algae; how to sample algae; preservation and storage techniques; methods for examining and quantifying planktonic algae; publications of use for algal studies. If participants have a copy of The Freshwater Algal Flora of the British Isles (2002), it would be helpful to bring it. Other copies of this book will be available.

Good quality microscopes are provided, but participants are welcome to bring their own if they feel more comfortable with a familiar instrument. All microscopes brought to the course must have an eyepiece objective containing a calibrated graticule. Computers are available for reading CD-ROMs of algal images and interactive keys for the identification of blue-green and green algae. There will be at least one computer connected to the internet to allow images of algae to be viewed on The Natural History Museum's web site. Course members can bring their own portable computers, but the organizers cannot accept responsibility for loss or other mishap to any equipment brought to the course.

Course members are encouraged to bring a laboratory coat as well as clothes and boots suited to a short field visit. There are always plenty of samples on display, but members are welcome to bring (preferably) fresh algal samples from their local region, apart from diatoms which are better as prepared slides. There is no need for overseas members to bring a laboratory coat or rubber boots - these will be loaned.

Courses tailored to your needs

We can design courses to meet your own training needs; the more we know about the background and level of experience of your staff, the better we are able to help. We can run courses in your own laboratories, or can arrange for them to take place in Durham. There are advantages to either approach, but we believe that a fully residential course is an excellent way to achieve rapid training. If you would like a residential course in summer (July or September), it would be helpful to arrange dates as early as possible in order to obtain the best accommodation and cheapest prices. In addition to arranging courses focusing on freshwater algal identification, we can provide short courses on advanced light microscopy and the development of electronic keys for identifying freshwater algae based on Lucid software.