[Annelida] Torleif Holthe

Torkild Bakken via annelida%40net.bio.net (by torkild.bakken from vm.ntnu.no)
Tue Jul 3 03:26:39 EST 2007

Dear colleagues,
It is with sadness I must report that Professor Torleif Holthe passed 
away Friday 22 June at the age of 61. Torleif had for the last years 
suffered from deteriorating health after a stroke eight years ago. He 
never recovered completely from this and had several more strokes over 
the years. Three weeks ago he got yet another stroke that he did not 
Torleif graduated from the University of Trondheim in 1973 with a thesis 
on the ecology of polychaetes in the Trondheimsfjord. During his studies 
he had been awarded a Nordic scholarship in marine biology to stay at 
the Helsingør Marine Biological Laboratory (University of Copenhagen) 
(1968-69), during which he discovered the world of worms in general and 
terebellomorphs in special. It was also during his studies he got 
interested in taxonomy. After he had completed his thesis and passed the 
exam with excellent results, he got a fellowship at the Museum of 
Natural History and Archaeology (University of Trondheim) to study 
theoretical systematics.
In 1978 he moved to the newly established University in Tromsø as 
assistant professor, and later associate professor, in marine biology. 
He contributed greatly to build up the marine biology unit and also set 
up a course in systematics. From teaching this course he later published 
a text book in taxonomy, in Norwegian. Being situated at 70 degrees 
north, Tromsø provided good access to northern areas, and Torleif 
invited colleagues on deep sea cruises to investigate the depths of the 
Norwegian Sea. This provided further information on terbellomorph worms 
which had become his main research subject. During his Tromsø period he 
developed a theory on the evolution of species belonging in 
Terebellomorpha. This culminated in the large volume "Evolution, 
systematics, and distribution of the Polychaeta Terebellomorpha, with a 
catalogue of the taxa and a bibliography" (1986), which was his thesis 
for the Doctor philosophiae degree awarded from the University of 
Trondheim in 1987.
Torleif returned to Trondheim and worked on environmental management in 
the Directorate for Nature Management for a few years. This has been an 
important period for the knowledge of marine fauna and flora in Norway, 
a work Torleif initiated. He did this by inviting a wide range of 
colleagues, and organised a steering group that collected and 
systematised knowledge on marine biodiversity for the Norwegian coast. 
This work has served as a base line and direct precursor in a plan for 
marine sanctuaries and national parks, which is now starting to be 
In 1996 he got back to the Museum where he started, at the Norwegian 
University of Science and Technology (former University of Trondheim). 
He had barely three active years before he got ill.
One of the main motivations in Torleif's professional career was 
students. He was always enthusiastic and willing to share his enormous 
knowledge on different marine creatures and environment. His classes for 
undergraduate students always included anecdotes and stories related to 
the lecture's theme. Discussion groups for graduate students often ended 
up in lively discussions on history or language, not always related to 
what was planned for the session. These are especially memorable moments 
that we will remember.

With best regards,

Torkild Bakken, Dr scient.
Associate professor
Museum of Natural History and Archaeology
Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)
NO-7491 Trondheim
Phone: +47 73 59 23 82 - mobile: +47 91 11 11 79
E-mail: torkild.bakken from vm.ntnu.no

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