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Nat Commun. 2014;5:3271. doi: 10.1038/ncomms4271.

Large mesopelagic fishes biomass and trophic efficiency in the open ocean.

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King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Red Sea Research Center, Thuwal 23955-6900, Saudi Arabia.
AZTI, Arrantza eta Elikaigintzarako Institutu Teknologikoa, Herrera Kaia Portualdea, 20110 Pasaia, Spain.
Departamento de Biología de Organismos y Sistemas, Universidad de Oviedo, Calle Catedrático Rodrigo Uría, Sin Número, 33071 Oviedo, Spain.
Instituto Español de Oceanografía (IEO), Centro Oceanográfico de A Coruña, Apdo 130, E15080 A Coruña, Spain.
Departamento de Biología, Facultad de Ciencias del Mar y Ambientales, Universidad de Cádiz, Campus de Excelencia Internacional del Mar (CEI·MAR), E-11510 Puerto Real, Spain.
Institute of Oceanography and Global Change, Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Campus Universitario de Tafira, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 35017 Canary Islands, Spain.
1] The UWA Oceans Institute and School of Plant Biology, University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, Western Australia 6009, Australia [2] Department of Global Change Research, IMEDEA (UIB-CSIC), Instituto Mediterráneo de Estudios Avanzados, Esporles 07190, Spain.
Department of Biology, University of Bergen, Bergen N-5020, Norway.


With a current estimate of ~1,000 million tons, mesopelagic fishes likely dominate the world total fishes biomass. However, recent acoustic observations show that mesopelagic fishes biomass could be significantly larger than the current estimate. Here we combine modelling and a sensitivity analysis of the acoustic observations from the Malaspina 2010 Circumnavigation Expedition to show that the previous estimate needs to be revised to at least one order of magnitude higher. We show that there is a close relationship between the open ocean fishes biomass and primary production, and that the energy transfer efficiency from phytoplankton to mesopelagic fishes in the open ocean is higher than what is typically assumed. Our results indicate that the role of mesopelagic fishes in oceanic ecosystems and global ocean biogeochemical cycles needs to be revised as they may be respiring ~10% of the primary production in deep waters.

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