Attention all diatomists!

Join Clint Davis, Alison Frohn, Paul Garrison, Leila Ben Khelifa, Heera Malik, Anna Nesterovich, and Bart Van de Vijver in providing your feedback on the Level 2 Diatom Species Exam.

The Diatom Taxonomic Certification Committee (TCC) has worked over the past few years to develop a species certification test. We need to hear from you about the style and content of the questions so that we can incorporate your suggestions into the formal exam. We will be accepting responses through the end of June 2022. After that time, we will formalize the exam for certification.

Some of the comments so far...

I definitely found out I am lazy/sloppy with nomenclature ;)

I liked how the first section had photos that were not on the DONA website. I also like what you're stressing in this section--it seems when I'm counting diatoms that I spend a lot of time deciding whether to lump, or split, and why.

This test seems like a good next step to a Level 2 species exam, up from the Level 1 genus exam.

    I definitely had the urge to "measure something", but given the examples it was not necessary to do so.

      I completed the example test in 9 minutes on my cell phone. Not the best choice.

      I was primed for the "does this morph match" section, as I have almost totally shifted to doing identification using a voucher flora.

      I think too much emphasis is placed on looking up the basionym. I agree that nomenclature is important, but being able to look up one example demonstrates that one is capable.

      Interesting test! It is great that you 'force' people to get some insights into taxonomy and nomenclature. I like that!

      Overall, I thought the exam did an adequate job measuring if I could identify species correctly.

      I think 100 questions in one hour is reasonable. That is based on the assumption that the mOTUs in first section are reasonably obvious. If it is necessary to determine striae density, that would take more time. The nomenclature section goes pretty fast if diatoms.org is open in a different window and you have two monitors. The second section took the most time for me as I needed to confirm my identification agreed with diatoms.org.

      It occurs to me that it is a really difficult task it is to come up with a test to measure folks abilities, especially given all the constraints. I think the taxonomic committee has made a great effort in developing these exams.

      On the question of whether we should have certification, I think it should be required. Most other professions require some type of certification to demonstrate a minimum level of competency. I think having to recertify periodically is also reasonable. If someone is regularly identifying the diatoms, recertification should not be difficult. I referee youth soccer games and I need to pass a written test for the initial certification and re-certify every year.

      I just finished taking the Level 2 beta test. I found it Sections 1 and 2 quite reasonable in that it asked questions that someone should know if they are going to work with diatoms. Since we seem to be going towards identifying with regional flora we need to be able to make accurate comparisons. I tend to be a taxon splitter so if there is a broad range of images I sometimes have difficulty where to put an unknown. Without a doubt, Section 2 if very important to be competent at identifying taxa. I use diatoms for water quality assessments so I am not sure for the reason for the nomenclature in Section 3. Having said that, the questions are extremely easy to answer since one can go to diatoms.org to find the exact answer. Since Section 3 questions are so easy to answer, it helps achieve a 95% score if you miss a question in Sections 1 and 2. As an aside, it only took me 26 minutes to complete the test and I double checked nearly all my answers. The only change I would suggest is that the correct answer be given on a missed question. I missed one question in Section 2 and I don’t understand why. Perhaps it was a spelling error, or an extra space.