Marine Science Faculty Publications

Large-Scale Diversity Patterns of Cephalopods in the Atlantic Open Ocean and Deep Sea

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cephalopods, deep-sea ecology, diversity patterns, open ocean ecology, species–energy relationships

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Although the oceans cover 70% of the Earth's surface and the open ocean is by far the largest ecosystem on the planet, our knowledge regarding diversity patterns of pelagic fauna is very scarce. Here, we examine large-scale latitudinal and depth-related patterns of pelagic cephalopod richness in the Atlantic Ocean in relation to ambient thermal and productive energy availability. Diversity, across 17 biogeochemical regions in the open ocean, does not decline monotonically with latitude, but is positively correlated to the availability of oceanic resources. Mean net primary productivity (NPP), determined from ocean color satellite imagery, explains 37% of the variance in species richness. Outside the poles, the range in NPP explains over 40% of the variability. This suggests that cephalopods are well adapted to the spatial patchiness and seasonality of open-ocean resources. Pelagic richness is also correlated to sea surface temperature, with maximum richness occurring around 15°C and decreasing with both colder and warmer temperatures. Both pelagic and benthos-associated diversities decline sharply from sublittoral and epipelagic regions to the slope and bathypelagic habitats and then steadily to abyssal depths. Thus, higher energy availability at shallow depths seems to promote diversification rates. This strong depth-related trend in diversity also emphasizes the greater influence of the sharp vertical thermal gradient than the smoother and more seasonal horizontal (latitudinal) one on marine diversity.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Ecology, v. 89, issue 12, p. 3449-3461