Polar Marine Diatom Workshop


History of the Polar Marine Diatom Workshop series - as we remember it!

1. The early story - Polar Diatom Colloquia

The origins of the Polar Marine Diatom Workshop series can be traced back to a workshop held during the 8th International Diatom Symposium in Paris, 1984. The workshop was convened by Greta A. Fryxell, and was attended by thirty diatomists (Fryxell, 1986). The discussion was divided into three sections (Arctic, Antarctic and sediments) with topics on terminology, methodology and future research direction. However, it was clear that problems existed in relation to taxonomy, identification, physiological requirements, bipolarity, and stratigraphy - and so a polar diatom class in the form of a colloquium was proposed - with access to microscopes a necessity. Although originally intended for experienced participants, it was realized that introductory classes would be needed in the future. The early polar diatom colloquia became a forum for (modified from Poulin, 1991): 1) sessions focused on taxonomic issues addressed by hands-on microscope work coordinated by a Teacher of the Day; 2) distribution of taxonomic notes, reference lists and microscope slides; 3) discussions on specific themes addressing the cutting edge of research and suggestions for future directions; and 4) production of written reports and review manuscripts for publication in the scientific literature.

A list of Polar Diatom Colloquia

Following on from the initial workshop in Paris (1984), colloquia were held in the following places:

By the 1990s the regular participants had separated into two groups: a marine group that would eventually re-emerge many years later to run the Polar Marine Diatom Workshop; and a freshwater (alpine) group, which organized annual Arctic-Antarctic Diatom Symposia in Canada. By about 2000, both groups had ceased to function and the first phase of coordinated polar diatom meetings had come to an end.


2. Polar Marine Diatom Workshop (PMDW)

The origins of the current PMDW series can probably be traced back to a meeting held during the 17th International Diatom Symposium in Ottawa, 2002. The meeting was convened by Leanne Armand and Ric Jordan, and was well attended by freshwater, marine and fossil diatomists. One of the topics of discussion was the possibility of restarting the previously successful Polar Diatom Colloquium series (1986-1996), which had fizzled out. Many people agreed that towards the end the colloquia had deviated somewhat from the original idea - that of a microscope-based workshop, where a small but diverse group of about twenty specialists and students could exchange information, slides and reprints and teach each other how to identify diatom species from various habitats. However, the number of polar diatomists had grown significantly since the late 1980s-early 2000s, and so the decision was made to once again separate into two groups; freshwater and marine/fossil. The marine group immediately began to search for someone to host the inaugural workshop in either the United States or Europe. However, after several fruitless years and with initial enthusiasm beginning to wane, Ric Jordan volunteered to host it in Yamagata, Japan, in 2005, under the title of Neogene Polar Marine Diatom Workshop. Whilst the name has changed slightly to enable hosts to access a broader cross section of funding, the PMDW is now established, and going from strength to strength.

A list of Polar Marine Diatom Workshops