As plant and animal diversity wanes, is microbial life changing too?

PHE Guest Investigator and microbiologist David Thaler has published the paper, “Is global microbial biodiversity increasing, decreasing, or staying the same?” in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution.  The answer is, we do not know.

The paper arose from Zoom discussions PHE began holding every Tuesday and Thursday noon during COVID lockdown of our NYC group members with colleagues in California, Israel, Switzerland, and elsewhere.  Bravo to David for asking a bold question and putting it onto the research agenda.  Thanks to Gary Borisy (Forsyth Institute) and Jessica Mark Welch (Marine Biological Laboratory) for sharing images.  A Press Release from the journal summarize the paper.

The Guardian, Microbes are ‘unknown unknowns’ despite being vital to all life, says study (another excellent article from Guardian science reporters!)

Agencia EFE, Spain, Un estudio resalta la “profunda ignorancia” de la biodiversidad de microbiosAargauer Zeitung, Switzerland, Biologie – Gilt das Artensterben auch für die Mikroben?

IndoAsian News Service, India Is microbial life, including viruses, changing too?
COSMOS Magazine, Australia The great unknown of global microbial diversity

Mongabay, ‘Profound ignorance’: Microbes, a missing piece in the biodiversity puzzle by Ian Morse on 26 April 2021

1-hour video about Ocean Decade

24 March 2021 Jesse Ausubel formed part of a lively 70-minute panel discussion on Oceans with

Ms. Maya Gabeira, Big Wave Surfer, 2X World Record Holder, Oceana Ambassador

Mr. Romain Troublé, Director-General, Tara Foundation

Mr. David Eades, Chief Presenter, BBC TV News, Moderator 1

Ms. Taylor Goelz, Program Manager, Shipping Decarbonization Initiative, Aspen Institute | Member, Ocean Decade Early Career Ocean Professional Informal Working Group, Moderator 2

The full 4’42” video of the UNESCO Forum on Biodiversity: On the road to Kunming is here on YouTube.

The Ocean session starts at 1:57 and lasts to 3:09. Jesse’s opening remarks (about better measurement of abundance of ocean life) start at 2:07 (3 minutes) and his pitch for soundscapes is at 2:41:35 (1.5 minutes).  The entire session is good listening (and some video too).

Great Global Fish Count

We post the concept paper for the Great Global Fish Count and the 5 slides Jesse Ausubel and Mark Stoeckle prepared for the Ocean Studies Board virtual meeting to discuss “ocean shots” for the new Ocean Decade. The video of Jesse’s 10-minute talk starts at 24’10” of the Feb 3 Ocean Decade Plenary 2 session of video showcase of the Ocean Decade: U.S. Launch Meeting February 3-4, 2021.

The USA Ocean Decade Ocean-Shots site is here.

Here is the list of 87 Ocean-Shot ideas.

 The journal of the Marine Technology Society will publish a special issue with short article on many of the ideas.

10th Anniversary of Census of Marine Life

Marking the 10th anniversary of the completion of the first Census of Marine Life, the Consortium for Ocean Leadership organized a virtual symposium 26 January 2021: Observing Life in a Changing Ocean Exploring a Census of Marine Life Today.  Jesse Ausubel gave the opening talk, a 25-minute retrospective on the CoML.  We post a pdf of the slides here.

We highly recommend re-visiting the concluding report of the CoML, Highlights of a Decade of Discovery, and much other material still available at

eDNA of Red Gate Farm waters, Martha’s Vineyard

At the end of August 2020, Jesse Ausubel sampled 7 locations in parts of what will become the new Squibnocket Pond Reservation (Red Gate Farm) in Aquinnah on Martha’s Vineyard for the Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation (SMF), which will manage the property together with the MV Land Bank. The late fall 2020 SMF newsletter runs a good article by Kate Feiffer about the findings, analyzed by Mark Stoeckle, which include a lot of eel and muskrat DNA and a little bit of black-crowned night heron.

Coverage of eDNA & trawl study

Plenty of fish in the sea? Scientists can now count them using DNA

ABC News One liter of ocean water can not only unlock the recent presence of dozens of species — it can also reveal the relative number of these fish.” and in French, here, and in German, here

Science Magazine, United States Fisheries in a flask? Loose DNA in seawater offers a new measure of marine populations

Agencia EFE, Spain  El análisis del ADN ambiental permite saber el número de peces de los océanos

Tencent, Mainland China New discovery by American scientists: by measuring the DNA in the sea water, you can know how many fish there are in the sea”

COSMOS Magazine, Australia Scientists go fishing for fish DNA-fish-dna/

Anthropocene How many fish are in the sea?

From the Chinese Academy of Sciences / China Science News: New method for marine biological population prediction

Greenreport, Italy Quanti pesci ci sono in mare? Ce lo dice l’eDNA

Seafood Source Cheaper, easier eDNA testing shows similar results to bottom-trawl surveys

Neue Zuricher Zeitung Find what escapes the eye: A new research approach is revolutionizing large parts of biology. Traces of genetic material in the environment provide information about hidden living organisms together with composition of entire species communities, Kurt De Swaaf