Under the auspices of the NSF-BSF funded project- The Indo-Pacific zooxanthellate octocorals: An integrative approach to species delimitation, phylogenetics and biogeography and MAF WORLD • COST ACTION CA20102- Marine Animal Forest of the World

Organizers: Prof. H. Benayahu, Tel Aviv University, Israel; Prof. C.S. McFadden, Harvey Mudd College, CA, USA; Dr. A. Quattrini, National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian Inst.), USA; and Dr. Í. Sampaio, Tel Aviv University.

Venue and timing: School of Zoology, Faculty of Life Sciences and the Steinhardt Museum of Natural History (SMNH), Tel Aviv University, Israel.

Date: July 23-27, 2023.

Overall goal: Participants will get an overview of octocorals, focusing on their taxonomy, phylogeny and ecology. This workshop will teach the morphological ID methods to get to genus-level IDs and present up-to-date molecular genetic approaches relevant to octocoral phylogenetics and species delimitation. Focus will be on exemplary genera of soft corals and gorgonians that are representative of different sclerite morphologies – both different types of sclerites but also different distributions of sclerites in the tissues. In addition, the workshop will teach the participants collection and preservation protocols and curatorial skills relevant to octocorals.

Participants: Graduate students and post-doc individuals who are interesting in learning more about octocorals and who work on (or have concrete plans to work on) octocorals; also open to other professionals such as researchers, curators, NGO personnel and environmental consultants.

Number of participants: 20.

Tentative schedule:
Day 1– morning: intro, lectures on octocoral taxonomy and identification; afternoon: lab work, focus on soft corals (shallow water IP).

Day 2– morning: visit to SMNH octocoral collection, lectures on octocoral ecology; afternoon: lab work, focus on gorgonians (deep, temperate, and cold-water taxa).

Day 3– molecular approaches: morning: lectures, afternoon: some data analysis exercises.

Day 4– students tackle genus-level ID of specimens they have brought (or ones we provide that are relevant to their interests).

Day 5– students present their findings, wrap-up.


Application deadline: April 16, 2023. Notification of acceptance: April 15, 2023.

How to be involved: Applicants must provide a personal letter of interest, CV, and a letter of recommendation from their graduate supervisor or employer.

Travel grants: Limited funds are offered to some of the participants to cover their expenses including round trip travel and per-diem cost. Applications for a travel grant should be appended to the registration material with justification for the funding request.

Applicants who are within the EU and associate countries of the MAF COST framework should subscribe in the COST action formally:

***A field trip to the Inter University Institute for Marine Sciences in Eilat (IUI) can be arranged on the participants’ account during the following week after the workshop. Participants will have to cover the involved expenses including transportation, food, and accommodation. The IUI visit will introduce its research activities and facilities, including the Red Sea Simulator. Snorkeling or diving activity will introduce the participants to the unique Eilat MAF, the northernmost coral reef ecosystem. Registration material should indicate interest in this optional activity.

See also:

For more information contact
Prof. Hudi –,
Prof. Cathy McFadden – or
Dr. Andrea Quattrini –