• The first global deep-sea stable isotope assessment reveals the unique trophic ecology of Vampire Squid Vampyroteuthis infernalis (Cephalopoda)

      Golikov, A; Ceia, F; Sabirov, R; Ablett, J; Gleadall, I; Gudmundsson, G; Hoving, H; Heather, J; Pálsson, J; Reid, AL; et al. (Nature Publishing Group, 2019-12-13)
      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.