1932

Abstract

The water column of the deep ocean is dark, cold, low in food, and under crushing pressures, yet it is full of diverse life. Due to its enormous volume, this mesopelagic zone is home to some of the most abundant animals on the planet. Rather than struggling to survive, they thrive—owing to a broad set of adaptations for feeding, behavior, and physiology. Our understanding of these adaptations is constrained by the tools available for exploring the deep sea, but this tool kit is expanding along with technological advances. Each time we apply a new method to the depths, we gain surprising insights about genetics, ecology, behavior, physiology, diversity, and the dynamics of change. These discoveries show structure within the seemingly uniform habitat, limits to the seemingly inexhaustible resources, and vulnerability in the seemingly impervious environment. To understand midwater ecology, we need to reimagine the rules that govern terrestrial ecosystems. By spending more time at depth—with whatever tools are available—we can fill the knowledge gaps and better link ecology to the environment throughout the water column.

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2024-01-17
2024-06-19
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