Behavioral Strategies of Lanternfishes (Family Myctophidae) in a High-Latitude Fjord and the Tropical Red Sea
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AbstractThe diel vertical migration (DVM) and feeding periodicity of myctophids (lanternfishes) were studied in the high-latitude Masfjorden, Norway, and the tropical Red Sea. In Masfjorden, a bottom-mounted echo sounder permitted continuous studies throughout the year, and revealed a diverse seasonal DVM behavior. During spring and summer, when zooplankton peaks in the epipelagic zone, migrating glacier lanternfish performed normal DVM (NDVM), ascending to the epipelagic zone during night and residing below ~200m during daytime. During autumn and winter, when Calanus overwinters between ~150–300 m, migrating glacier lanternfish mainly performed inverse DVM (IDVM), ascending to feed on Calanus in mid-waters during daytime. Non migrating (NoDVM) individuals were present all year below ~300 m in Masfjorden. In the Red Sea, where zooplankton has an epipelagic distribution, the whole population of skinnycheek lanternfish performed NDVM, feeding in the epipelagic zone at night, while residing at ~500–750 m during daytime. The warm waters of the Red Sea were hypothesized to limit the time individuals can stay in the mesopelagic zone without migrating to feed in the epipelagic layers. The DVM behavior of myctophids largely seemed to relate to the distribution of zooplankton, and it was hypothesized that NDVM will prevail with epipelagic distribution of prey, while IDVM and NoDVM are common in areas where zooplankton migrate seasonally to mesopelagic depths. Potential predators were continuously present, found to apparently attack glacier lanternfish, at mesopelagic depth in Masfjorden. Thus, myctophids are under threat of predation even at mesopelagic depth.