PLoS One and the Census of Marine Life

One of the greatest moments of my career was being invited to serve as editor at PLoS One. This moment was surpassed by the day I launched the Marine and Aquatic Science Section at PLoS One in early 2009.  I was glad to serve PLoS One, develop and build the Marine and Aquatic Science section, recruit an excellent team of academic editors, and serve as the section editor.  PLoS One Marine and Aquatic Sciences has continued to grow with 166 articles to date.   Stuart Humphries, the current section editor, has done a wonderful job ensuring quality open-access science is published and continuing to develop a superb editorial staff.

2010 sees the end of the Census of Marine Life, a ten year effort to catalog and explore the biodiversity of world’s oceans. This year and next you will see a great variety of expert science papers communicating the findings of this massive effort.   Many of these papers will be published in PLoS One Marine and Aquatic Science.  I again commend Humphries, the chief editor Peter Binfield, and the editorial staff at PLoS One for both providing a home and highlighting this fantastic work.

Today PLoS ONE unveiled their newest collection, a group of papers on a central theme, on marine biodiversity and biogeography.  This collection will continue to grow and currently includes 11 papers with two insightful overviews.

As part of [the Census of Marine Life], participating nations and regions generated new syntheses of marine biodiversity knowledge in their adjacent waters. These summaries are collected here. Each paper describes the physical, geological, chemical, and biological characteristics of the region, provides a brief history of research and species discovery, and gives insight into the role of Census activities in promoting and synthesizing this information. These articles bring together teams of regional experts to identify strengths and gaps in taxonomic capacity and ecological knowledge, potential focal areas for biodiversity research, and threats to marine biodiversity that span fishing disturbance, habitat destruction, invasive species, pollutants, and climate change. They provide species inventories and document patterns of endemism within different taxa, and they identify biogeographic regions and taxonomic groups with the greatest potential to yield new discovery. Individually these articles provide insights that can reveal regional needs and promising directions for future research; collectively they establish a baseline for further global assessments and identify mechanisms for future international collaboration

Dr. M (1729 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, a National Science Foundation supported initiative. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (, a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web. His forthcoming book, Science of the South (, connects cultural icons of South such as pecan pie with the science behind them.

4 comments on “PLoS One and the Census of Marine Life
  1. So Sweet! I didn’t know about the special section and now with the launh of this new project, even more exciting.
    I’m preparing a report on the state of Biology blogs and different ways social media is being used by professional biologists. I will definitely include this news in my report.
    Much success and see DSN around the interwebz.

  2. Thanks for the compliments Craig, and of course thank you for your involvement towards getting us where we are today. We are honored to be publishing so much of the CoML output and we are looking forward to publishing several other CoML Collections in the next couple of months.


  3. Pingback: Media Coverage of the Marine Biodiversity and Biogeography Collection « everyONE – the PLoS ONE community blog

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