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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Authors: Golikov, Alexey V., Ceia, Filipe R., Sabirov, Rushan M., Ablett, Jonathan D., Gleadall, Ian G., Gudmundsson, Gudmundur, Hoving, Hendrik J., Judkins, Heather, Pálsson, Jónbjörn, Reid, Amanda L., Rosas-Luis, Rigoberto, Shea, Elizabeth K., Schwarz, Richard, Xavier, Jose C. ORCIDORCID record for Jose C. Xavier

13 December, 2019
Scientific Reports / 9
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