Archives by month:

14 June 2018

Mark Stoeckle is interviewed in an AP Television segment about searching for the Loch Ness monster using eDNA.  Mark’s interview and footage begins about 2 minutes 50 seconds into the 8-minute segment.

Posted at 08:06 am in News

28 May 2018

Jesse Ausubel had the honor in October 2015 to present the Michelson Lecture  at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis.  Thanks Captain and Professor Emil Petruncio!

We now post a polished version of that lecture, “Ocean Past, Ocean Future: Reflections on the Shift from the 19th to 21st Century Ocean.”

Abstract In the 19th century humans knew little about the oceans, but other forms of life knew a lot. Our job the past 135 years has been to catch up and surpass other forms of life in knowledge of the oceans. The advance of observation through science and technology, including new carriers and processors of information, has vastly expanded the oceans knowable to humans beyond what a sailor’s five senses could directly provide. By infiltrating the ocean with informationally connected sensors, humans are becoming the top experts on the oceans in the 21st century.


Posted at 10:05 am in News

28 May 2018

Thanks to Marlowe Hood of Agence France Press (AFP) for an extensive article about Why should mitochondria define species? by Mark Stoeckle and David Thaler. Editing of Mr. Hood’s article resulted in a couple of inaccuracies.

While the opening sentence suggests that a handheld barcoding device already exists, such a convenient device remains a few years away, although the process of obtaining barcodes is now standardized, routine, and quick.

The fourth paragraph inquires about diversity increasing with time.  Diversity does increase with time.  What the paper shows is that while time matters, the population size achieved over the interval of time does not matter.  For precise formulations, see the paper and press release.

Posted at 10:05 am in News

23 May 2018

The article Why should mitochondria define species?
Stoeckle M.Y., Thaler D.S.
is now fully open access:
DOI: 10.14673/HE2018121037
Direct link to download pdf:

Coverage in Tekniikan Maailma, Finland: (Widespread genetic research revealed: Human genetic diversity is low – Two people do not differ by more than two percent)

and Nachrichten Welt, Germany: Alles andere als besonders: Die winzigen DNA-Unterschiede der Menschheit sind “Durchschnitt” im Tierreich


Posted at 12:05 pm in News

21 May 2018

We (Mark Stoeckle and Jesse Ausubel) post new results from water sampling in October 2017 for eDNA on the island of Martha’s Vineyard.  We tested for freshwater fish (light green rows), saltwater fish (blue rows), and other vertebrates (taupe rows).  We tested in four more locations, Upper Lagoon Pond (Oak Bluffs), Mill Brook just below Mill Pond (West Tisbury), Old Millpond (West Tisbury), and Priester’s Pond (North Tisbury).  Priester’s Pond is about two miles north of Mill Pond and feeds into it.  We compared these four locations to two places we tested in 2016, Look’s Pond (freshwater, West Tisbury) and Tisbury Great Pond (saltwater) into which it feeds.

In each case, we sieved DNA from about a cup of water scooped within reach of the shore. The numbers in the columns are the number of DNA “reads” obtained from each sample for each species.  One can think of the number of reads or fragments of DNA as indicative of the abundance of DNA of that species and probably indicative of the abundance of the species itself, although different species of animals shed DNA at different rates.

The first two columns on the left show the results from 2016, for example, lots of American eel DNA in Look’s Pond.  In 2017 the Bella Bennett of the Martha’s Vineyard Times covered our initial findings about eDNA on the Island:

We found some cool things in the new locations.  For example, Mill Pond has DNA of river otters, which are hard critters to see.  The Mill Brook, Millpond, and Priester’s Pond all have muskrat DNA, and all abound in frog DNA.  DNA from all the fish in Priester’s Pond also occurs downstream in Millpond but Millpond has pickerel and eel DNA absent from Priester’s.   The brook has DNA for small stream species such as darters and killifish but not for brown bullhead (similar to catfish) or pickerel, which may need the pond habitat.

We found a mix of DNA for salt and freshwater fish in Upper Lagoon Pond.  We were happy to find menhaden and herring DNA, which means the “herring ladder” gets used.  Most remarkably, we found striped bass DNA in Upper Lagoon Pond, confirming a wild “fish” story from 2016:

We continue to be thrilled by ways that eDNA allows us to discover the animals in the water around us.  For more, see and .


Posted at 12:05 pm in News

21 May 2018

Mark Stoeckle and David Thaler publish “Why should mitochondria define species?” open-access (DOI: 10.14673/HE2018121037) in the journal Human Evolution following a study of mitochondrial DNA from about 5 million specimens covering about 100,000 animal species. The paper, described in a press release, argues that humans are far from special: humanity’s tiny mt DNA differences are “average” in the animal kingdom. Moreover, as with humans, over 90% of animal species today likely originated 100,000–200,000 years ago.

RealClearScience runs a good article about Stoeckle-Thaler, “What Can ‘DNA Barcodes’ Tell Us About Evolution and Ourselves?”

Other coverage:

The Independent, UK Genetic differences between people across the world are no greater than differences between pigeons

Europa Press, newswire, Spain La diferencia genética entre humanos, en el promedio de las especies

Agencia EFE, Spain Demostrado, no eres nada excepcional (Demonstrated, you’re nothing exceptional

RIA Novosti (newswire), Russia: Scientists have not found differences in the genetic diversity of humans and animals)

Posted at 09:05 am in News

26 April 2018

As part of the Monmouth U-Rockefeller U Marine Science and Policy Initiative, Mark Stoeckle and Jesse Ausubel participated in a lively seminar at the Urban Coast Institute about discovering aquatic life with environmental DNA (eDNA).

Posted at 05:04 pm in News

26 April 2018

 Lifewatch has named Jesse Ausubel’s ‘terrible claw’ lobster as one of the ten astounding species of the last decade (2007-2017).  Hooray for Dinochelus ausubeli! Thanks to the colleagues who made this happen.

Ten astounding marine species of the last decade (2007-2017)

  • Deep-sea lyre sponge – Chondrocladia lyra
  • Palauan primitive cave eel – Protanguilla palau 
  • Deep-sea acochlidiacean slug – Bathyhedyle boucheti  
  • Tree syllid worm – Ramisyllis multicaudata 
  • Starry sea wanderer jelly – Marivagia stellata  
  • The Hoff crab – Kiwa tyleri 
  • Squidworm – Teuthidodrilus samae 
  • Jesse Ausubel’s ‘terrible claw’ lobster – Dinochelus ausubeli  
  • The ‘living fossil’ octocoral – Nanipora kamurai 
  • Scaly-foot snail – Chrysomallon squamiferum

Posted at 10:04 am in News

26 April 2018

Our beloved geographer colleague and friend Robert Kates passed away 21 April 2018 at the age of 89.  Jesse met Bob in 1978 during preparations for the first UN World Climate Conference and they work closely together on studies of the impacts of climate variability and change for the next 20 years.  Together they conceived and led the climate project of the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE) during the early 1980s, much of which was reported in RW Kates, JH Ausubel, M Berberian (eds), Climate Impact Assessment, SCOPE 27, Chichester: Wiley, 625pp., 1985.  Bob also contributed an excellent chapter to Daedalus 125(3), 1996, The Liberation of the Environment, “Population, Technology, and the Human Environment: A Thread through Time,” pp. 43-72, edited by Jesse.

Environment reporter Andy Revkin offers sound and sensitive thoughts and links to some of Bob’s late work.

We look forward to a seminar sure to be organized to celebrate his wonderful work and humanity.

Posted at 07:04 am in News

3 April 2018

We post ‘The Potato and the Prius,’ the January 2018 keynote address by Jesse Ausubel to the Potato Business Summit of the United Potato Growers of America.

Posted at 08:04 am in News