Wood: Is It What's For Dinner?

Craig McClain

Duke University

$5,000Next Goal
This project was funded on:
7 March 2014
Wooden carcasses, former trees and ships, bring a rare commodity to the deep sea devoid of light and plants—food. Little is known about these ephemeral wood falls, the unique faunas on them, or the basics of their food web. By examining chemical fingerprints we can determine what each animal eats and whether it is predator or prey. This will yield a richer understanding of how land and oceans are linked in the global carbon cycle.


Budget Overview

We plan to send samples to the Washington State Stable Isotope Core Facility for analysis of the stable isotopes. Each isotopic analyses for carbon:nitrogen costs $8.20 and for sulfur $16 per sample. At 5 samples for each of the 30 species equals $3, 630. An additional $370 is required for the shipping of the samples to Washington state. Funds beyond the $4,000 will allows us to deploy more wood falls!

Meet the Researcher


The work is in collaboration with Jim Barry (MBARI) and David Honig (Duke University).
Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center at Duke University. He has conducted oceanographic research for 15 years and published over 40 papers in the area. He has participated in dozens of expeditions taking him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses mainly on marine systems and particularly the biology of body size, biodiversity, and energy flow in deep sea life. He founder and chief editor of Deep-Sea News, a popular ocean themed blog, rated the number one ocean blog on the web and winner of numerous awards. Craig’s popular writing has been featured in Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web. Read more a craigmcclain.com

Endorsed by


"Woodfalls" are a previously unappreciated yet globally significant link between the ecology of the land and that of...See more

Senior Lecturer in Marine Ecology, University of Southampton, UK


Craig's studies of the wood falls as oases of food in deep-sea ecosystems is both very interesting and important....See more

Senior Scientist


This project is really interesting. We suspect that wood falls are an important source of nutrition to the deep sea,...See more

Reader in Marine Ecology, Plymouth University, UK.


The Second World That Forms On Sunken Trees by Ed Yong at National Geographic
Why Is This Marine Biologist Throwing Logs Into The Ocean? by Roxanne Palmer at International Business Times

Will My Wood Research Be Poplar by Craig McClain at Deep-Sea News
A Lonely Tree Far From Home Brings New Life to the Ocean Deep: A Narrative in Five Acts by Craig McClain at Deep-Sea News
Wood, It’s What’s For Dinner by Craig McClain at Deep-Sea News
I Got Wood by Craig McClain at Deep-Sea News
Making science out of chucking stuff in the sea at the Eclectic Limpet
Why land plants matter to deep-sea critters at the Eclectic Limpet

Update: All donators will be registered in a drawing to win a Giant Plus Giant Isopod

Fund $10 and more
Personalized e-mail thank-you. Quarterly updates with photographs on how the project is proceeding and what exactly your contributions are going towards. These updates will be received at every contribution level.
Fund $25 and more
A custom designed Wood Fall sticker
Fund $50 and more
A Deep-Sea News Pirate Giant Squid Sticker (http://deepseanews.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/dsnbanner.jpg) to go with the Wood Fall Sticker
Fund $100 and more
An 8.5x11 print of wood fall creatures!
Fund $250 and more
A small chunk of the bored wood from 3.5 kilometers deep!
Fund $500 and more
You will be acknowledged as a contributor in my manuscript/publication and will receive a signed copy.
Fund $1,000 and more
I will join you and friends (or a classroom of your choice) for Google+ hangout where you can ask me all about wood falls, oceans, and the life of a scientist. If my travel schedule brings me near your location, we can even do it in person! Stickers for everyone!

As soon as you make a pledge, we'll contact you about receiving your reward.

Project Backers

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