Accurate biological monitoring and assessment of freshwaters is an important priority of local, state, tribal, and federal agencies. Diatoms are powerful and sensitive indicators of a variety of environmental variables, especially nutrient pollution, pH, and salinization. Yet, successful assessment relies on accurate and consistent taxonomic identifications. The diatom taxonomic certification program is part of a multi-prong approach to produce high quality, consistent datasets.

Our goal is to certifiy practitioners who are capable of providing consistent and accurate diatom data using a common nomenclatural system. The program will promote undergraduate and graduate training of taxonomists, systematists, and ecologists through workshops and will further the development of taxonomic resources.

The program is being developed in response to the Society for Freshwater Science (SFS) long term plan. In September 2017, a special session at the North American Diatom Symposium (NADS) gathered community input on the feasibility and need for diatom taxonomic certification. Strong support was voiced by the community, and a working group meets regularly to design and develop the certification program.

The Diatom Taxonomic Certification Committee includes David Burge, Mark Edlund, Julianne Heinlein, Sylvia Lee, Alison Minerovic, Jan Stevenson, and Sarah Spaulding. We have been working to design a program that will help improve taxonomic consistency and support the use of diatoms in environmental assessments. We recently submitted a proposal to the Society for Freshwater Science to fund exam design facilitation, prototype testing, and development of web infrastructure. The macroinvertebrate taxonomic certification program hosted by SFS is an important resource, and we are assessing the program elements that are transferable to diatoms.

Whether you are a supervisor, professional analyst, professor, student, or citizen scientist, we want to hear from you in our survey. We will use the information you provide to seek funding for design and implementation of the certification program.

The survey closed October 31st.