Journey through DeepEnd

The DeepEnd experience through the eyes of a grad student. This will be a collection of science updates-either dealing with my own progress or news from other team members-as well as summaries of outreach activities I get to experience!

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Categories
    Categories Displays a list of categories from this blog.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Team Blogs
    Team Blogs Find your favorite team blogs here.
  • Login
    Login Login form

Master's Monday Blog - What's for Dinner in the Deep Sea?

Posted by on in News
  • Font size: Larger Smaller
  • Hits: 472
  • 0 Comments
  • Subscribe to this entry
  • Print

 b2ap3_thumbnail_DP04-10AUG2016-MOC10-SE2D-066-N3-Barbontus-curvifrons-Image-No2-LRM-.jpg

Hi folks, welcome back to the blog!  This edition of Master’s Monday will be brought to you by Mike Novotny. I am a Master’s candidate at Nova Southeastern University, working under Dr. Tracey Sutton in the Oceanic Ecology Lab, where I study the bathypelagic zone and the fishes that call this environment home. 

The ocean is commonly divided into three layers based on sunlight penetration with depth.  The midnight (aphotic/bathypelagic) zone is the deepest layer, which starts around 1000 meters.  The bathypelagic zone receives no sunlight, has consistent near-freezing temperatures, contains pressures exceeding 100 times that found at the surface, and is the planet’s largest ecosystem!  It is within the depths of the bathypelagic zone that you will find the very intriguing group of fishes that belong to the family Platytroctidae, known also as Tubeshoulders.  Due to the rarity of specimens, there is very little information known about these fishes, which is where my research takes off! 

                       b2ap3_thumbnail_DP03-01MAY16-MOC10-B082N-037-N0-Mentodus-facilis-No2-LRM-.jpg                                              b2ap3_thumbnail_Platytroctes-apus_Image-No2_LR-M.jpg

Tubeshoulders get their name due to a unique tube-like structure that can be found in the shoulder region of all fishes in this family.  This tube leads to an organ that contains a luminous blue/green fluid, which allows the luminescent material to be expelled, possibly, for a potential defense mechanism by temporarily distracting the would-be predator.  Below is a great video about bioluminescence, but jump to 10:40 to see how platytroctids get their name!  

 

Tubeshoulders have very large eyes, especially for a deep-sea fish!  These large eyes are excellent at detecting low-level, point  source light and distance ranging, suggesting they may be visual predators, however, the diet of tubeshoulders has yet to be examined.  My thesis research addresses this crucial data gap by exploring the feeding behavior and documenting prey preferences of this bathypelagic fish family.  Based on stomach content analysis these fishes seem to feed infrequently. I visually examined and identified the gut contents under a compound microscope, which revealed that members of this family tend to be generalist zooplanktivores, consuming a wide variety of taxa such as, copepods, ostracods, chaetognaths, gelatinous taxa, and even the occasional squid! This study represents the first investigation into the diet of this fish family, and adds to the sparse community data of the bathypelagic zone, by identifying nutrient pathways that connect this deep-sea ecosystem to the upper ocean.

Last modified on
I am pursuing my Master’s degree at Nova Southeastern University where I am working with Dr. Tracey Sutton in the Oceanic Ecology Lab. I received my B.S. from The University of Tampa in Biology and Marine Science. I am interested in understanding the structure of marine ecosystems and how the biotic and abiotic processes shape these communities. I am particularly attracted to food web ecology and trophic linkages of an ecosystem. For the DEEPEND project I will be examining food web dynamics of key species from the bathypelagic realm.

Comments

  • No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment

Leave your comment

Guest
Guest Tuesday, 21 August 2018