Working Group on Phytoplankton and Microbial Ecology (WFPME): ICES Scientific Reports

Marie Johansen, Rowena Stern, Felipe Artigas, Eileen Bresnan, David Clarke, Veronique Creach, Siv Husby, Iveta Jurgense, Alexandra Kraberg, Anders Lanzen, Katja Metfies, Todd O'Brien, Renata Pilkaityte, Anneke van den Oever, Nicole Poulton, Heidi Sosik, Ian Salter, Glen Tarran, Eva Teirra, Dani VaiciuteClaire Widdicombe

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The ICES Working Group on Phytoplankton and Microbial Ecology (WGPME) provides tools and expert perspectives on the sampling methods, ecology and diversity of phytoplankton and other planktonic microbes. The group set out terms of reference to improve access to data, cross-disciplinary approaches and to develop ecological interpretations of the changing phytoplank-ton seascape. The group published 16 papers between 2019–2021, including key tools, high-pro-file synthesis papers and science reports. Tools: The group has progressed efforts to collect images of commonly used Lugol’s-preserved phytoplankton, alongside live images to aid those in correctly identifying species. Members have noticed and published records of new phytoplankton species. The group aims to produce a New Records database to assist in notifying new or reoccurrence of a species. WGPME work, with other Expert Groups (EG) to improve access to molecular genetic tools and records. A multi-EG thematic session has been submitted for ICES ASC 2022 in cooperation with other EGs, whilst phytoplankton barcoding information will be incorporated into the Working Group on Inte-grated Morphological and Molecular Taxonomy (WGIMT) barcoding Atlas ( and access: The group is gathering information on nano and picoplankton (small phytoplankton less than 10 and 2μm respectively) to incorporate into global datasets such as GLOMICON. Multiple data sources point to an increasing trend in picoplankton and few indi-cators exist in current EU or national legislation to measure their impact on marine ecology. Many members are involved in indicator development for governmental and pan-governmental organisations such as OSPAR. However, the number and level of indicators vary in each country.Long-term ecology: The cooperative zooplankton and phytoplankton report has been delayed but initial analysis has indicated≥30 years of data reliably shows spatio-temporal trends in phy-toplankton and the effects of temperature on key phytoplankton groups. Two research papers are being produced on climate change effects on key marine phytoplankton species with the additional aim of improving indicators of change using species-specific information.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationCopenhagen
Commissioning bodyInternational Council for Exploration of the Seas
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 2021

Publication series

NameICES scientific reports
ISSN (Electronic)2618-1371


  • ICES
  • Phytoplankton
  • Ecology
  • Microbial


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