Vertical distribution and diurnal migration of atlantid heteropods

Deborah Wall-Palmer*, Brett Metcalfe, Melanie J. Leng, Hilary J. Sloane, Gerald Ganssen, P. N. Vinayachandran, Christopher W. Smart

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Understanding the vertical distribution and migratory behaviour of shelled holoplanktonic gastropods is essential in determining the environmental conditions to which they are exposed. This is increasingly important in understanding the effects of ocean acidification and climate change. Here we investigated the vertical distribution of atlantid heteropods by collating data from publications and collections and using the oxygen isotope (?18O) composition of single aragonitic shells. Data from publications and collections show 2 patterns of migration behaviour: small species that reside in shallow water at all times, and larger species that make diurnal migrations from the surface at night to deep waters during the daytime. The ?18O data show that all species analysed (n = 16) calcify their shells close to the deep chlorophyll maximum. This was within the upper 110 m of the ocean for 15 species, and down to 146 m for a single species. These findings confirm that many atlantid species are exposed to large environmental variations over a diurnal cycle and may already be well adapted to face ocean changes. However, all species analysed rely on aragonite supersaturated waters in the upper <150 m of the ocean to produce their shells, a region that is projected to undergo the earliest and greatest changes in response to increased anthropogenic CO2.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalMarine Ecology Progress Series
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jan 2018


  • Atlantidae
  • Calcification
  • Diurnal migration
  • Gastropod
  • Ocean acidification
  • Oxygen isotopes
  • Vertical distribution


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