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Fri, Feb

Lanternfish reveal how ocean warming impacts the twilight zone

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A new study from the British Antarctic Survey shows how lanternfish, small bioluminescent fish, are likely to respond to the warming of the Southern Ocean.

A new study from the British Antarctic Survey shows how lanternfish, small bioluminescent fish, are likely to respond to the warming of the Southern Ocean.

Lanternfish are one of the most abundant groups of organisms in the oceans and inhabit the ‘twilight’ zone, the part of the ocean between 200 – 1000 metres which only a small amount of sunlight reaches. They are an important part of the Southern Ocean food web and feed Southern Ocean predators, including penguins and seals. The study, which is published (online) in the journal The American Naturalist, found that if ocean warming trends continue there may be changes in the distribution of lanternfish species which will impact these predators.

The team studied patterns in the body size of lanternfish in relation to temperature and latitude across the Scotia-Weddell sector of the Southern Ocean. By examining net samples and in situ temperature measurements from recent research surveys (2006-2009), it was found that lanternfish body size increases with decreasing temperature and increasing latitude. This shows that a greater body size is vital for these organisms to survive in the colder regions further south.

Read more at British Antarctic Survey

Image: A lanternfish, one of the most abundant groups of organisms in the ocean which inhabit the ‘twilight’ zone.

Image Credit: British Antarctic Survey