Professor Mark John Costello

BSc (National University of Ireland, Galway), PhD (National University of Ireland, Cork)


  • 2020-present: professor in marine ecology at Nord University, Bodo, Norway and 
  • 2004-present: professor teaching in biogeography, Marine Reserves, biodiversity informatics at the University of Auckland. 
  • 2000-2004: Executive Director of the Huntsman Marine Science Centre, St Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada.
  • 1997-2000: Founding Managing Director and Chief Scientist with Ecological Consultancy Services Ltd (EcoServe), Dublin, Ireland, a company specialising in ecological research and consultancy.
  • 1990-1997: Research and Teaching Fellow (equivalent to Lecturer and Senior Lecturer) in Environmental Sciences, Trinity College, Dublin.
  • 1988-1990: Research Fellow in Ecotoxicology of Napier University (Edinburgh) based at the Scottish Office Marine Laboratory (Aberdeen and Loch Ewe).
  • 1987: Royal Irish Academy and Royal Society postdoctoral fellowship at the Marine Biological Association, Plymouth.

Research | Current

  • Biodiversity ~ Climate change ~ Ecology ~ Biogeography ~ Aquatic ectoparasites (especially sea lice) ~ Conservation ~ Marine Reserves

Teaching | Current

  • From 2020 I no longer teach courses at the University of Auckland as I have moved my primary appointment to Nord University, Norway.
  • I coordinated the 'Marine Protected Areas' (Marine 703) course and contributed to teaching courses in Biogeography (BioSci 395), Bioinformatics (BioInf 301 & 701), and Marine Science (Marine 202).

Postgraduate supervision

I am not accepting to be primary supervisor of graduate students at the University of Auckland as my primary appointment is now at Nord University where I will continue to supervise students in these areas:

  • Global biodiversity and biogeography, especially in the ocean
  • Marine Reserves and study of Marine Protected Area networks using biogeographic and environmental data.
  • Marine invasive species ecology, biogeography and risk assessment.
  • Ectoparasites (sea lice) of marine fish and aquaculture.

Enquiries regarding MSc or PhD study should demonstrate they have reviewed relevant posts on our website 

Current graduate students

  1. Han-Yang Lin - evolutionary biogeography and ecology of fish
  2. Thomas Morris - biodiversity and biogeography of marine parasites
  3. Lena Hartebrodt - biodiversity and biogeography of isopod crustaceans
  4. Tamlin Jefferson - global planning of marine conservation areas

Recent graduate students

  • Victoria Lai - the effects of climate warming on aquaculture parasite (sea lice) distributions
  • Janine Cunningham - the global biodiversity of fungi and their rates of description
  • Dr Tri Arfianti - biodiversity and biogeography of amphipod crustaceans
  • Dr Joko Pamungkas - biodiversity and biogeography of polychaetes
  • Dr Dinusha Jayathilake - mapping marine biomes of the world
  • Dr Nestor Robinson - modelling distribution of invasive seaweeds
  • Dr Qianshuo Zhao - mapping marine ecosystems of the world
  • Nicholas MacRae - baseline ecology of a coral reef ecosystem
  • Dr Ana Markic - plastic pollution in the south Pacific
  • Dr Maria Charry - estuarine copepods as contaminant bioassays
  • Dr Chhaya Chaudhary - latitudinal and depth gradients in marine species richness
  • Dr Irawan Asaad - scientific design of a Marine Protected Area network in the Coral Triangle
  • India Merrick - methods for designing marine reserve networks
  • Dr Charley Waters - biology and restoration of giant clam populations
  • Dr Zeenatul Basher - ecology and distribution modelling of benthic shrimp of Antarctica
  • Dr Hanieh Saeedi - global biogeography of razor clams
  • Rikki Taylor - ecosystem indicators from trawl survey data


  • Alumni Award from National University of Ireland, Galway in category of Engineering, Science and Technology (2021)
  • New Zealand Marine Sciences Society Annual Award for “a person’s continued outstanding contribution to marine science in New Zealand” (2017).
  • Special Achievement in GIS (SAG) award at the 2017 Esri User Conference; for contribution to the development of the Ecological Marine Units 3-dimensional environmental classification of the oceans.
  • Co-Chair the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) Biodiversity Observation Network (BON)  Marine-BON (2012-)
  • Co-chair the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 5th Assessment Report chapter on Biodiversity hotspots, and a Lead Author of the Australia and New Zealand regional chapter.
  • Vice-President of INVASIVESNET (2017-)
  • Past-President of the International Association for Biological Oceanography (IABO) (2009-2018) a member of the International Union of Biological Sciences (IUBS) and in turn, of the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU), General Secretary (2002-2009)
  • New Zealand nominated expert to the UNCLOS World Ocean Assessment (“Pool of Experts for the UN Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment”) (2013-present)
  • Finalist in the world Accelerating Science Award Program (ASAP) for Open Access scientific publications sponsored by Google, PLoS and Wellcome Trust (2014), which led to blog posts


Teaching responsibilities included coordination of the post-graduate diploma course on Marine Protected Areas, and third-year teaching in biogeography, biodiversity informatics, and marine ecology; as well as graduate student supervision.

Areas of expertise

  • Biodiversity, biogeography, biodiversity informatics, especially marine and global
  • Conservation, marine reserves, invasive species
  • Sea lice parasites and aquaculture

Committees/Professional groups/Services

  • Co-chair of Cross-Cutting Chapter on Biodiversity Hotspots in the 6th Assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC)
  • Lead Author in IPCC 6th Assessment Report chapter on Australia and New Zealand
  • Editor of journal PeerJ
  • Member of the Species 2000 Taxonomy Group
  • On Editorial Advisory Board of the new European Journal of Taxonomy 
  • On Editorial Advisory Board of the new journal BioInvasions Records, the International Journal of Applied Research on Biological Invasions 
  • Member of first editorial board of journal Aquaculture Environment Interactions 
  • Co-established Biotaxa, an online archive and editorial management system that facilitates the publication and preservation of journals in biological taxonomy
  • First chair of the European and World Registers of Marine Species at 
  • First Chair of the Ocean Biogeographic Information System 
  • Founded the Environmental Sciences Association of Ireland in 1994
  • Manage the email lists for Marine Research Information Network on Biodiversity (MARINE-B) and sea-lice biology and control (Caligus) since the late 1990s.

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Yasuhara, M., Wei, C.-L., Kucera, M., Costello, M. J., Tittensor, D. P., Kiessling, W., ... Baselga, A. (2020). Past and future decline of tropical pelagic biodiversity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 117 (23), 12891-12896. 10.1073/pnas.1916923117
  • Zhao, Q., Stephenson, F., Lundquist, C., Kaschner, K., Jayathilake, D., & Costello, M. J. (2020). Where Marine Protected Areas would best represent 30% of ocean biodiversity. BIOLOGICAL CONSERVATION, 24410.1016/j.biocon.2020.108536
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Carolyn Lundquist
  • Costello, M. J., & Connor, D. W. (2019). Connectivity Is Generally Not Important for Marine Reserve Planning. Trends in ecology & evolution, 34 (8), 686-688. 10.1016/j.tree.2019.04.015
  • Bates, A. E., Cooke, R. S. C., Duncan, M. I., Edgar, G. J., Bruno, J. F., Benedetti-Cecchi, L., ... Barrett, N. (2019). Climate resilience in marine protected areas and the 'Protection Paradox'. BIOLOGICAL CONSERVATION, 236, 305-314. 10.1016/j.biocon.2019.05.005
  • Costello, M. J. (2019). Unhelpful inflation of threatened species. Science (New York, N.Y.), 365 (6451), 332-333. 10.1126/science.aay3467
  • Costello, M. J., Beard, K. H., Primack, R. B., Devictor, V., & Bates, A. E. (2019). Are killer bees good for coffee? The contribution of a paper's title and other factors to its future citations. Biological conservation, 229, A1-A5. 10.1016/j.biocon.2018.07.010
  • Costello, M. J., Horton, T., & Kroh, A. (2018). Sustainable Biodiversity Databasing: International, Collaborative, Dynamic, Centralised. Trends in ecology & evolution, 33 (11), 803-805. 10.1016/j.tree.2018.08.006
  • Costello, M. J., Basher, Z., Sayre, R., Breyer, S., & Wright, D. J. (2018). Stratifying ocean sampling globally and with depth to account for environmental variability. Scientific reports, 8 (1)10.1038/s41598-018-29419-1