[Annelida] Torleif Holthe
(by torkild.bakken from vm.ntnu.no)
Tue Jul 3 03:26:39 EST 2007
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
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.
Museum of Natural History and Archaeology
Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)
Phone: +47 73 59 23 82 - mobile: +47 91 11 11 79
E-mail: torkild.bakken from vm.ntnu.no
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