Research group - Oceanic nekton and deep-sea biology




     We study ecology and distribution patterns of nektonic species of the open ocean and the polar seas, including the deep-sea, mid-ocean ridges and seamounts. Of particular interest are reproductive strategies, feeding ecology and life history of nekton organisms and their performance in response to stressors. 
     Our work also focuses on biogeography and taxonomy of selected groups and on the development of in situ observation systems to study meso-scale distribution and behavior of the meso- and bathypelagic macrofauna. We also contribute to teaching, supervision of students, and provide lectures to the general public.

Team and expertise

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Uwe Piatkowski
Henk-Jan Hoving
Rebecca Scott
Richard Schwarz
Kira Hoffmann
  • Uwe Piatkowski (Senior scientist): marine biology, fisheries, food web interactions, environmental stressors, Southern Ocean ecology, marine biodiversity, cephalopod ecology
  • Henk-Jan Hoving (Scientist): deep-sea biology, in situ observational technology, life history strategies, environmental stressors, cephalopods, jellyfish, reproductive ecology
  • Rebecca Scott (Scientist): marine conservation, migratory marine mega-vertebrates, sea turtles, bio-logging technology (acoustic tags, satellite tags, accelerometers), ocean models, marine dispersion analysis
  • Richard Schwarz (PhD Student): fisheries biology, cephalopod ecology, growth and fecundity studies in squid and octopods, analysis of hard increments such as statoliths, beaks, gladius
  • Kira Hoffmann (Literature and Information manager): coordination of "CEPHLIT" (Cephalopoda), compilation of a digital databank on cephalopod literature

    (and topic of thesis):
  • Svenja Christiansen (MSc): Assessing the distribution, eddy association and biogeochemical importance of a pelagic polychaete in the eastern tropical Atlantic Ocean
  • Shawn Dove (MSc): Distribution of mespelagic fish larvae in the mid-eastern Atlantic Ocean
  • Lisa Kettemer (MSc): Dispersal and mortality of juvenile sea turtles: the role of temporal oceanic variation
  • Alexandra Lischka (MSc): Cephalopods of the Sargasso Sea: Distribution patterns in relation to hydrographic condition
  • Véronique Juliette Merten (MSc): Trophic ecology of the orange-back flying squid Sthenoteuthis pteropus in the eastern tropical Atantic Ocean
  • Philipp Neitzel (MSc): Impact of oxygen depleted zones on distribution and abundance of gelatinous macroplankton in the eastern tropical Atlantic Ocean
  • Benedikt Schulte (BSc): The impact of oxygen minimum zones on the community composition of pelagic cephalopods in the eastern tropical Atlantic Ocean

Summaries of current projects

  • In situ observations of Cape Verdean pelagic communities in a changing ocean
  • Charcterizing trophic links in pelagic ecosystems with stable isotope fingerprinting of amino acids (pdf)
  • Assessing life-cycle and longevity of deep-sea and Antarctic octopods (pdf)
  • In situ observations of the pelagic polychaete Poeobius in the tropical Atlantic Ocean
  • Oceanic cephalopods collected in the eastern tropical Atlantic Ocean by deep tows with the MOCNESS (pdf)
  • Studies on the diet of sperm whales that stranded in the German Wadden Sea (pdf)

Recent publications

  • Hoving HJT, Bush SL, Haddock SHD, Robison BH (2017) Bathyal feasting: post-spawning squid as a source of carbon for deep-sea benthic communities. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 284: 20172096. DOI:10.1098/rspb.2017.2096
  • Merten V, Christiansen B, Javidpour J, Piatkowski U, Puebla O, Gasca R, Hoving HJT (2017). Diet and stable isotope analyses reveal the feeding ecology of the orangeback squid Sthenoteuthis pteropus (Steenstrup 1855) (Mollusca, Ommastrephidae) in the eastern tropical Atlantic. PLoS ONE 12(12): e0189691. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0189691
  • Schroeder R, Schwarz R, Crespi-Abril AC, Perez JAA (2017) Analysis of shape variability and life history strategies of Illex argentinus in the northern extreme of species distribution as a tool to differentiate spawning groups. Journal of Natural History 2017 online DOI:10.1080/00222933.2017.1374484 
  • Palm HW, Yulianto I, Piatkowski U (2017). Trypanorhynch assemblages indicate ecological and phylogenetical attributes of their Elasmobranch final hosts. Fishes 2017 2: Article number 8. DOI:10.3390/fishes2020008
  • Hoving HJT, Robison BH (2017). The pace of life in deep-dwelling squids. Deep-Sea Research Part I 126:40-49. DOI:10.1016/j.dsr.2017.05.005
  • Sutton TT, Clark MR, Dunn DC, ..., Piatkowski U, et al. (2017). A global biogeographic classification of the mesopelagic zone. Deep-Sea Research Part I 126:85-102. DOI:10.1016/j.dsr.2017.05.006
  • Hoving HJT, Haddock SHD (2017). The giant deep-sea octopus Haliphron atlanticus forage on gelatinous fauna. Scientific Reports 7: Article number 44952. DOI:10.1038/srep44952  Haliphron video
  • Lischka A, Piatkowski U, Hanel R (2017). Cephalopods of the Sargasso Sea: distribution patterns in relation to oceanography. Marine Biodiversity 47(3):685-697. DOI:10.1007/s12526-016-0629-4
  • Piatkowski U, Lischka A (2017). Tintenfische – Spitzenathleten der Weltmeere. In: Hempel G, Bischof K, Hagen W (eds). Faszination Meeresforschung. Springer, Berlin, Germany, pp 143-146. DOI:10.1007/978-3-662-49714-2_13
  • Scott R, Biastoch A, Agamboue PD, Bayer T, et al. (2017) Spatio-temporal variation in ocean current-driven hatchling dispersion: Implication for the world’s largest leatherback sea turtle nesting region. Diversity and Distributions 23(6):604-614. DOI:10.1111/ddi.12554
  • Purser A, Marcon Y, Hoving, HJT, Vecchione M, Piatkowski U, Eason D, Bluhm H, Boetius A (2016). Association of deep-sea incirrate octopods with manganese crusts and nodule fields in the Pacific Ocean. Current Biology 26:R1268-R1269. DOI:10.1016/j.cub.2016.10.052