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Diel vertical migration of the loosejaw dragonfishes (Stomiiformes: Stomiidae: Malacosteinae): a new analysis for rare pelagic taxa

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The diel vertical migration (DVM) of three genera of the stomiid subfamily Malacosteinae (Photostomias, Aristostomias and Malacosteus) was analysed from capture records of nearly 300 specimens in the Atlantic Ocean. To account for broad temporal and geographic scales encountered in this study, local time of capture was transformed to a corrected time representing position in a solar day. Species of Photostomias and Aristostomias undertake asynchronous DVMs characterized by a residence in the mesopelagic zone during the day and separate migrating and non-migrating subpopulations at night. Species of Photostomias displayed an asynchronous DVM pattern characterized by a residence in the lower mesopelagic zone (>500 m) during the day and a segregated distribution at night. Specimens of Photostomias guernei captured at night in the mesopelagic were nearly identical in size to those captured in the epipelagic; however, day epipelagic specimens were stratified by size. In species of Aristostomias, few specimens were caught in the mesopelagic zone during the day and only small specimens were captured in the mesopelagic zone at night, indicating that sampling depth may not have been adequate to capture the bulk of mesopelagic daytime residents and the entire size range of the non-migrating night-time residents. In contrast, Malacosteus niger was distributed below 600 m, did not regularly migrate to the epipelagic zone and was stratified across the 700 m isobath. From these data, relationships between DVM patterns, morphology and foraging ecology are inferred and biases and applications of this method are discussed.
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Keywords: asynchronous migration; diel vertical migration; loosejaw dragonfishes; mesopelagic; time correction

Document Type: Regular Paper

Publication date: 01 September 2008

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