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Census of Marine Life Report Released

First Census Shows Life in Planet Ocean is Richer, More Connected, More Impacted than Expected

Culminating a 10-year exploration, 2,700 scientists from 80 nations report first Census of Marine Life, revealing what, where, and how much lives and hides in global oceans; To measure changes caused by climate or oil spills, Census establishes a baseline; New species discovered, marine highways and rest stops mapped, diminished abundance documented; Online Census directory allows anyone to map global addresses of species. Read the full report and explore other CoML resources

Census of Marine Life Papers Published

Census of Marine Life scientists just released an inventory of species distribution and diversity in key global ocean areas. Scientists combined information collected over centuries with data obtained during the decade-long Census to create a roll call of species in 25 biologically representative regions — from the Antarctic through temperate and tropical seas to the Arctic. Their papers help set a baseline for measuring changes that humanity and nature will cause.

The recent Census papers were published as a collection entitled “Marine Biodiversity and Biogeography — Regional Comparisons of Global Issues” in the Public Library of Science. Gulf of Maine scientists, Dr. Lewis Incze and Nicholas Wolff, are co-authors one of these PLoS articles, Overview of Marine Biodiversity in United States Waters by Daphne Fautin et al.

Global biodiversity maps and links to more Census research that appeared in Nature (July 28) can be found in the Wired Science article, Warming of Oceans Will Reduce and Rearrange Marine Life.

Census of Marine Life: Celebrating Darwin Essay Contest

Discovering our modern day “Darwins” in the Census of Marine Life

Eligibility: High school students in US and Canada, enrolled 2009-10
Deadline: December 11, 2009
Essay Length:  500 words or less
Goal: To enhance understanding of scientific methods and discovery

Prizes: $300 in non-monetary prizes of books, memberships, and DVDs; one-year membership to Gulf of Maine Marine Education Association

One hundred fifty years ago, Charles Darwin published a book that continues to influence science and the way we view life on earth today.  Darwin’s book, The Origin of Species, was the result of years of observation aboard the Beagle and decades of collaborative research with colleagues around the world to explain the diversity of life on earth.

In 2010, scientists from around the globe will share the results of another voyage of discovery. This 10-year mission will explore and explain the diversity of life in the oceans – past, present, and future.

This essay contest seeks to have students feature a research  or collaborative project from the Census of Marine Life which continues in the tradition of the naturalist who changed our view of the world, Sir Charles Darwin. The essays should detail how  the researchers involved in the project have carried on these traditions:

Observation of the diversity of life in the oceans
Collaboration among people from multiple disciplines
Exploration of the diverse habitats which support life
Analysis and synthesis of discoveries and ideas, which lead to…
New information contributing to science and society at large

Contest details available here including a list of biodiversity and Darwin resources

For more information, contact:

Erik Pietrowicz, Biology Department, University of Southern Maine, epietrowicz@gmail.com

Susan Ryan, Gulf of Maine Census of Marine Life, University of Southern Maine, sryan@usm.maine.edu

Gulf of Maine Area-Census of Marine Life Newsletter

July 29, 2009

CALENDAR: Gulf of Maine Symposium – Early registration ends July 31st

Early registration ends Friday, July 31st for the Gulf of Maine Symposium, to be held in scenic St Andrews by-the-Sea, New Brunswick, October 4-9, 2009.

GoMA will host a one-day workshop on Biodiversity in the Gulf of Maine on Monday, October 5th.  We invite members of the science, management and conservation communities to join us.

The symposium is sponsored by the Regional Association for Research on the Gulf of Maine, in collaboration with COMPASS, Department of Fisheries and Oceans – St. Andrews Biological Station, Gulf of Maine Research Institute, and the Gulf of Maine Area – Census of Marine Life.

RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS: Isles of Shoals (NH), Platts Bank (ME), Cobscook Bay (ME) and Discovery Corridor (Canada)

Here are a few highlights of summer research activities from our partners:

Leading a team of students at Shoals Marine Lab, marine archaeologists Nate Hamilton and Ingrid Brack (photo) found evidence of prehistoric Native Americans on Smuttynose Island, Isles of Shoals, New Hampshire.

Studies of biological hotspots – areas teeming with marine life – continue at Platts Bank, an off-shore bank 30 miles east of Portland, Maine.

Sampling of intertidal and nearshore species continues in Cobscook Bay, near the Maine/Canadian border.

A two-week cruise is underway in the Discovery Corridor, from the shores of the Bay of Fundy to the deep sea.  A 2008 National Geographic video shows you what this Canadian project is all about.

PUBLICATIONS: Recent papers on ecosystem dynamics

Gulf of Maine researchers have published two recent papers on changing ecosystem dynamics and fish communities using decades and centuries worth of data:

Using fish survey data from 1963 to the present, Peter Auster and Jason Link co-authored Compensation and recovery of feeding guilds in a northwest Atlantic shelf fish community (April 30, 2009, Marine Ecology Progress Series ).  The abstract begins “Disturbance by fishing activities in marine ecosystems has resulted in significant shifts in the distribution, abundance and diversity of fish communities.” Dr. Auster (photo) is a key contributor to the GoMA Census of Marine Life.

Based on historic records dating back to 1630, a team of researchers led by Stefan Claesson and Andy Rosenberg published their final report on Stellwagen Bank Marine Historical Ecology (2009, Gulf of Maine Cod Project, UNH). Dr. Rosenberg is a project leader for the Historical Marine Animal Populations of the Census of Marine Life. Recent guest lecturers and historians, Karen Alexander and Bill Leavenworth, contributed to the report.

Congratulations to all on their significant contributions to our understanding of the Gulf of Maine ecosystem.

EDUCATION NEWS: Student video wins national recognition

A poignant and well-produced video, Our Oceans, Our World , by high school students Eric Kao and Jorie Heilman of Lexington, Mass. captured the admiration of regional and national judges.  The winning video will be on display at the Smithsonian’s Ocean Hall throughout the year.  The winner and runners-up can be viewed on our website – kudos to all who participated in the contest.

Living on the Ocean Planet video contest is a project of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl, initiated by GoMA and co-sponsored by the Census of Marine Life.

Editor’s Note

A special thanks to Census of Marine Life scientist, Dr. Michael Sinclair of the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Dartmouth, NS for his recent interview for our blog, Celebrating Darwin.  In Part 1, Reflections on Darwin , Dr. Sinclair discussed how scientific theories come to be, and in Part 2, Music and Darwin,  how music inspired – and was inspired by – Darwin.

As part of our ongoing celebration of Darwin’s 200th birthday and the 150th anniversary of Origin of Species, we invite colleagues to contribute to our blog in the coming months.  If interested, please contact Susan Ryan.

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Researchers Looking For New Forms of Marine Life, Clues to Deep-Sea Communities

A team of researchers, led by NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center, is surveying an underwater mountain chain in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean to study its biodiversity. The international research team is working aboard the 208-foot NOAA ship Henry B. Bigelow as part of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge Ecosystem Project, or MAR-ECO. This project is one of 14 field programs that are part of the Census of Marine Life, a 10-year global study of the abundance, distribution and diversity of marine life in the world’s oceans. The Census began in 2000 and seeks, by 2010, to determine what lives in the ocean and how this life has changed with time. More information about the expedition is available online.