Research group Deep-sea biology




     We study ecology and distribution of organisms that live in the deep sea. Of particular interest are cephalopods, jellyfish, crustaceans, and fishes. Recent work covers reproductive strategies, feeding ecology, life history, and responses to stressors. We are also interested in documenting key organisms that are responsible for the carbon transfer towards the sea floor (food falls). Our work includes the development of modern in situ observation systems to record meso-scale distribution and behaviour of the meso- and bathypelagic fauna.

Team and expertise

Uwe Piatkowski
Henk-Jan Hoving
Richard Schwarz
Stella Scheer
Véronique Merten
Philipp Neitzel
Hendrik Hampe
  • Uwe Piatkowski (senior scientist): marine biodiversity, deep-sea nekton and zooplankton, environmental stressors, food web interactions, Southern Ocean ecology, cephalopod ecology and taxonomy
  • Henk-Jan Hoving (Emmy Noether fellow, junior scientist): deep-sea biology, modern in situ observational photo- and video-technology, nekton ecology (especially cephalopods and jellyfish), reproductive ecology, life history strategies of deep-sea animals
  • Richard Schwarz (post doctoral scientist): cephalopod biology, fisheries, age, growth and fecundity studies in cephalopods, analysis of hard increments such as statoliths mandibles, gladii
  • Véronique Merten (doctoral researcher): trophic ecology of oceanic cephalopods, stable isotope analysis, oceanic biodiversity (eDNA studies)
  • Stella Scheer (doctoral researcher): deep-sea ecology, impact of pelagic food falls, lander experiments, crustacean ecology, studies on deep-sea scavenger communities
  • Philipp Neitzel (post graduate scientist): deep-sea ecology, image analysis of mesopelagic and deep-sea organisms, in particular jellyfish
  • Hendrik Hampe (BSc in Marine technologies): marine electronic technology, development of deep-sea video-technology

Some 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, Christiansen S, Fabrizius E, Hauss H, Kiko R, Linke P, Neitzel P, Piatkowski U, Körtzinger A (2019). The Pelagic In situ Observation System (PELAGIOS) to reveal biodiversity, behavior, and ecology of elusive oceanic fauna. Oceanic Science 15:1327-1340. DOI:10.5194/os-15-1327-2019
  • Rosa R, Pissarra V, Borges FO, ..., Piatkowski U, Vecchione M, Villanueva R (2019). Global patterns of species richness in coastal cephalopods. Frontiers in Marine Science 6:469. DOI:10.3389/mars.2019.00469
  • Schwarz R, Hoving HJT, Noever C, Piatkowski U (2019). Life histories of Antarctic incirrate octopods (Cephalopoda: Octopoda). PLoS ONE 14(7):e0219694. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0219694.
  • Matias RS, Gregory S, Ceia FR, ..., Piatkowski U et al. (2019). Show your beaks and we tell you what you eat: Different ecology in sympatric Antarctic benthic octopods under a climate change context. Marine Environmental Research 150:104757. DOI:10.1016/j.marenvres.2019.104757.
  • Laptikhovsky V, Arkhipkin A, Lipinski MR, Markaida, U, Murua H, Nigmatullin CM, Sauer WHH, Hoving HJT (2019). Iteroparity or semelparity in the Jumbo squid Dosidicus gigas: A critical choice. Journal of Shellfish Research 38(2):375-378. DOI:10.2983/035.038.0218

  • Laptikhovsky V, Fock H, Piatkowski U, Schwarz R, Hoving HJT (2019). Reproductive strategies of deep-sea squid (Mastigoteuthidae, Chiroteuthidae, Batoteuthidae and Cranchiidae). Marine Biology 166:85. DOI:10.1007/s00227-019-3532-2
  • Hoving HJT, Fernández-Álvarez FÁ, Portner EJ, Gilly WF (2019). Same-sex sexual behaviour in an oceanic ommstrephid squid, Dosidicus gigas (Humboldt squid). Marine Biology 166:33. DOI:10.1007/s00227-019-3476-6
  • Hoving HJT, Neitzel P, Robison B (2018). In situ observations lead to the discovery of the large ctenophore Kiyohimea usagi (Lobata: Eurhamphaeidae) in the eastern tropical Atlantic. Zootaxa 4526(2):232-238. DOI:10.11646/zootaxa.4526.2.8
  • Lischka A, Lacoue-Labarthe T, Hoving HJT, Javidpour J, Pannell JL, Merten V, Churlaud C, Bustamante P (2018). High cadmium and mercury concentrations in the tissues of the orange-back flying squid, Sthenoteuthis pteropous, from the tropical Eastern Atlantic. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety 163:323-330. DOI:10.1016/j.ecoenv.2018.07.087
  • Schwarz R, Piatkowski U, Hoving HJT (2018). Impact of environmental temperature on the lifespan of octopods. Marine Ecology Progress Series 605:151-164. DOI:10.3354/meps12749
  • Christiansen S, Hoving HJT, Schütte F, Hauss H, et al. (2018). Particulate matter flux interception in oceanic mesoscale eddies by the polychaete Poeobius sp. Limnology and Oceanography 63:2093-2109. DOI:10.1002/Ino10926
  • Ijsseldijk LL, van Neer A, Deaville R, ..., Piatkowski U, et al. (2018). Beached bachelors: An extensive study on the largest record sperm whale Physeter macrocephalus mortality event in the North Sea. PLoS ONE 13(8):e0201221. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0201221
  • Férnandez FÁ, Villanueva R, Hoving HJT, Gilly WG (2018). The journey of squid sperm. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries 28:191-199. DOI:10.1007/s11160-017-9498-6