A mosaic of diverse ideas: The ecological legacy of J. Frederick Grassle

Deep-Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography
By: , and 



During the 40 years (and counting) of his scientific career, J. Frederick Grassle has made fundamental contributions to our understanding of marine ecosystems from coral reefs to deep-sea sediments. His advocacy and passion for marine biodiversity in the form of myriad groundbreaking studies and influential reviews, his generosity of ideas and capacity to catalyze and inspire those working with him as well as the science community in general, his breakthroughs in improved ocean observation, his marine science infrastructure initiatives, together with his tireless persistence, have helped lead to major shifts in approaches to marine science and the shape of modern ocean studies to one that favours multidisciplinary research, teamwork, continuous, long-term observation, in situ experimentation, recognition of the importance of marine biodiversity, and global cooperation on research and data sharing. In shallow-water ecology, he co-discovered sibling species of Capitella spp., important not only because it is a key pollution indicator but also because the work helped to pave the way for the discovery of numerous sibling species in other taxa with major ramifications for ecological understanding. He was also a key player in the West Falmouth oil spill study which, along with complementary mesocosm experiments, remains one of the most important and detailed studies of its kind. He was also a lead player in the first biological expedition to hydrothermal vents and wrote the seminal articles that helped to inspire the flurry of vent research that followed. He is perhaps best known for his deep-sea work, where he brought submersibles to the forefront as a sampling tool, brought experimental manipulative studies to the primarily descriptive discipline of deep-sea benthic ecology, and generated tremendous excitement, debate, and rekindled interest in marine biodiversity with the first quantitative estimate of global deep-sea diversity. His efforts to document marine biodiversity resulted in the international Census of Marine Life, and his emphasis on the need for continuous, long-term ocean observation has led to breakthroughs in international cooperation in cabled observatories such as LEO-15. These efforts have also enhanced efforts to integrate ocean data on a global scale in platforms such as the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS). The diversity of his contributions to marine science mirror the immense marine diversity he has recognized, documented, and championed so effectively over the last four decades.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title A mosaic of diverse ideas: The ecological legacy of J. Frederick Grassle
Series title Deep-Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography
DOI 10.1016/j.dsr2.2009.05.001
Volume 56
Issue 19-20
Year Published 2009
Language English
Publisher ScienceDirect
Description 5 p.
First page 1571
Last page 1576
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N