HELCOM Phytoplankton Expert Group (HELCOM PEG)
Quality assurance of phytoplankton monitoring in the Baltic Sea in 2011-2013
The main target of the project is to insure and maintain high quality standard of the international Baltic regional phytoplankton monitoring within the HELCOM COMBINE Programme. This should be achieved by:
Maintaining annual training courses (workshop)
Maintaining the phytoplankton biovolume list
Quality assurance of data is an important component of the HELCOM monitoring programme, and measures were early taken to evaluate and improve the recommended methods through intercalibrations between the different partners. In 1991 HELCOM PEG was established, with the main aim to unify methods of collection, counting and identification of phytoplankton species. Since accurate biomass estimates are important in phytoplankton monitoring, PEG has also made considerable efforts to standardise size-classes and biovolumes of phytoplankton species found in the Baltic Sea. The use of a standardised species list with fixed size-classes and biovolumes is a decisive measure to improve the quality of the phytoplankton counting method and the comparability of results.
The main activity within the project will be carried out at the annual workshops. The following types of activities are planned:
To maintain continuity and high quality in phytoplankton identification and quantification, in particular because a new generation of phytoplankton researchers and analysts are currently joining the PEG;
To follow recent changes in taxonomy of problematic and important phytoplankton groups, including the indicator species, in order to keep the PEG Phytoplankton list up to date.
|Intercalibrations||To keep the high standard of phytoplankton monitoring in the Baltic Sea, to assure the comparability of results|
|Further unifying the counting method||To continuously update the phytoplankton monitoring manual within COMBINE|
|Revision of the biovolume file||To add new species and size classes when necessary; to link invalid synonyms and valid species names in co-operation with ICES Data Centre|
|Production of indicator fact sheets||To track changes in proportions of different phytoplankton groups over time; to assist in development of reference conditions based on species composition|
At the training courses it is planned to consider:
Identification of problematic phytoplankton species;
Maintaining and upgrading of the expertise for identification of alien species
In cooperation with B-NEAT (Baltic and North East Atlantic Taxa), building of a representative and validated image gallery of the Baltic phytoplankton species and making it available on the HELCOM PEG website
Intercalibrations and further unifying the counting method includes:
Interlaboratory ringtests on species identification and biovolume estimations;
Checking the general methodology, especially the influence of variations in counting procedure (influence of chamber volume, counting strategy etc.);
Implementation of quality assurance by performing a detailed questionnaire among participating laboratories;
For the professional planning and statistical evaluation of the ringtest, an expert with a short-term contract has to be employed (approximately 2 months)
The venue of the workshops will be circulated between the Contracting Parties and their marine laboratories. Suggested host countries are: Sweden in 2011, Denmark in 2012 and Poland in 2013.
The project period is three years. Mr. Andres Jaanus, Estonia, will be the convener during the first year, 2011, and Ms. Iveta Jurgensone, Latvia, will be the convener during the last two years, 2012-2013.
The outcome of the project will be:
Annual reports from the 3 workshops to HELCOM MONAS
Revised species/biovolume list of Baltic phytoplankton species
Intercalibration reports to HELCOM/ICES
Updated and new indicator fact sheets
First part of a Phytoplankton Image Gallery (PIG)
Final report (2011-2013)
Consistency with HELCOM priorities
In this project the HELCOM priorities are met by assuring that the quality of the phytoplankton data is high enough to evaluate effects of eutrophication, changes in biodiversity and long-term trends. This data is for example crucial for the work with the EU Water Frame Directive.
The project will be carried out in 2011-2013 as continuation to the ongoing HELCOM PEG project for 2008-2010. More specific timetable:
Regular tasks will be discussed during all workshops, especially:
discussion on new species and size classes occurred in last year samples
discussion on preparation of new and updating of existing indicator factsheets
information on recent changes in taxonomy of planktonic microalgae
new images to add to the phytoplankton image gallery
information on new relevant literature, meetings and conferences.
Specific tasks for the separate workshops are:
A training course on diatoms in the Kattegat and the southern Baltic will be given by Mr. Lars Edler, Sweden,
Planning of the next ringtest (if not agreed in 2010),
Discussions on the first draft of Phytoplankton Image Gallery (PIG).
Department of System Ecology, University of Stockholm will arrange the meeting.
Training course of a specific phytoplankton group (will be decided in 2010)
Discussion on data quality and development of the database with expert from the ICES Data Centre
Planning the next project (2014-2016)
The workshop will be held in Denmark.
Lecture on statistical methods used in the evaluation of quality test
Presentation of the results from the ringtest and updating of the COMBINE manual
A training course on phytoplankton from the central and northern parts of the Baltic Sea
The workshop will be held in Poland
Useful links to the products of HELCOM PEG
Biovolume file, with biovolumes and fixed size-classes used for the calculation of phytoplankton biomass in routine monitoring of Baltic Sea phytoplankton (updated 2012). For geometrical shapes used, see Olenina et al 2006. Note that the above Excel-file of biovolumes should be used both for species and biovolume list in routine monitoring of Baltic Sea phytoplankton.
Phytoplankton sampling and analysis is carried out according to the Phytoplankton monitoring manual within the HELCOM COMBINE.
HELCOM Indicator fact sheets about phytoplankton, produced by PEG:
- Unusual phytoplankton event during winter-spring 2007-2008
- Shifts in the Baltic Sea summer phytoplankton communities in 1992-2006
- Unusual phytoplankton events in 2005
Checklist of Baltic Sea Phytoplankton Species (Hällfors 2004). Species reported from the Baltic Sea until 2004.
Image gallery of Baltic phytoplankton species
Other useful links to phytoplankton web sites
Dr. Andres Jaanus
Estonian Marine Institute
EE-12618 Tallinn, Estonia
Tel: +372 6718974
Chair 2012-2013Ms. Iveta Jurgensone
Latvian Institute of Aquatic Ecology
LV-1048 Riga, Latvia
Tel: +371 67610850
Ms. Maria Laamanen
Tel: +358 46 850 9198
Contracting Parties and laboratories
Last updated 18 January 2011