The first global deep-sea stable isotope assessment reveals the unique trophic ecology of Vampire Squid Vampyroteuthis infernalis (Cephalopoda)
Vampyroteuthis infernalis Chun, 1903, is a widely distributed deepwater cephalopod with unique morphology and phylogenetic position. We assessed its habitat and trophic ecology on a global scale via stable isotope analyses of a unique collection of beaks from 104 specimens from the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. Cephalopods typically are active predators occupying a high trophic level (TL) and exhibit an ontogenetic increase in δ15N and TL. Our results, presenting the first global comparison for a deep-sea invertebrate, demonstrate that V. infernalis has an ontogenetic decrease in δ15N and TL, coupled with niche broadening. Juveniles are mobile zooplanktivores, while larger Vampyroteuthis are slow-swimming opportunistic consumers and ingest particulate organic matter. Vampyroteuthis infernalis occupies the same TL (3.0–4.3) over its global range and has a unique niche in deep-sea ecosystems. These traits have enabled the success and abundance of this relict species inhabiting the largest ecological realm on the planet.
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Golikov, A. V., Ceia, F. R., Sabirov, R. M., Ablett, J. D., Gleadall, I. G., Gudmundsson, G., Hoving, H. J., Judkins, H., … Xavier, J. C. (2019). The first global deep-sea stable isotope assessment reveals the unique trophic ecology of Vampire Squid Vampyroteuthis infernalis (Cephalopoda). Scientific Reports, 9(1), 19099. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-55719-1
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