Viperfish ( Chauliodus ). Image by Leo Smith.

Viperfish (Chauliodus). Image by Leo Smith.

Our open-access paper investigating the evolution of species-specific bioluminescent structures in the deep-sea lineages of lanternfishes (Myctophiformes) and dragonfishes (Stomiiformes) was recently published in the journal Marine Biology. We show, for the first time, that deep-sea fishes that possess species-specific bioluminescent structures (e.g., lanternfishes, dragonfishes) that may be used for communication are diversifying into new species at a more rapid rate than deep-sea fishes that utilize bioluminescence in ways that would not promote isolation of populations (e.g., camouflage, predation). This work adds to our understanding of how life thrives and evolution shaped present-day biodiversity in the deep sea, the largest and arguably least explored habitat on earth.

Davis, M.P., Holcroft, N.I., Wiley, E.O., Sparks, J.S., and Smith, W.L. (2014). Species-Specific Bioluminescence Facilitates Speciation in the Deep SeaMarine Biology. DOI: 10.1007/s00227-014-2406-x.

Blue Lanternfish ( Tarletonbeania crenularis ). Image by Matthew P. Davis.

Blue Lanternfish (Tarletonbeania crenularis). Image by Matthew P. Davis.