Marine Science Faculty Publications

Ammonium Content and Buoyancy in Midwater Cephalopods

Document Type


Publication Date


Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


The majority of squid families (Teuthoidea: Cephalopoda) exchange sodium for ammonium, creating a low-density fluid that imparts lift for neutral buoyancy. However, previous methods for measuring ammonium did not distinguish between NH4+ and various other amine compounds. The present study, using single column ion chromatography, reassessed the cation concentrations in several midwater cephalopod species. High NH4+ levels were confirmed for histioteuthid, cranchiid, and chiroteuthid and related squids. A strong relationship is reported between ammonium content and body mass in Histioteuthis heteropsis, suggesting a gradual accumulation of ammonium coincident with an ontogenetic migration to greater depths. The bathypelagic squids Bathyteuthis abyssicola and Bathyteuthis berryi, on the other hand, contained very little ammonium but rather contained large quantities of an as yet unidentified cation. The ecological significance of this compound is not yet known. Morphology in Bathyteuthid squids suggests that the unknown cation is contained intracellularly and so, unlike sequestered ammonia, does not diminish the space available for muscle tissue. Accordingly, protein measurements in B. berryi mantle muscle are on par with shallower-living muscular squids, and in situ submersible observations reveal strong locomotory abilities relative to other deep-water squids.

Was this content written or created while at USF?


Citation / Publisher Attribution

Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, v. 313, issue 2, p. 375-387