Department of
Biological Sciences

Postdoc, PhD
Tom J. Langbehn

Who I am

I am quantitative (marine) ecologist with a strong interest in evolution and global change ecology. I enjoy thinking broadly, to link data with theory and models, and I find interest in diverse biological disciplines. Central aspects of my work are foraging interactions, physiology, life-history theory, species distributions, and behavioural ecology. I am particular fascinated by polar (high-latitude) ecosystems and their extreme seasonality, and life in the ocean twilight zone. I work mostly, but not exclusively, on (meso-)pelagic fish, zooplankton, and birds.


You can find more info about me, my past and present work, my outreach activites including a list of publications, talks and posters on my personal webpage.

What I want to know

I want to understand the mechanics of life in the ocean: how species interact, what drives their behaviour, evolutionary strategies, and distributions, and how marine ecosystems across different levels of organisation will respond to perturbations like climate change or fishing.

What I do

For my research I combine numerical models rooted in evolutionary and ecological theory with observations from the field. Although, most of my work is done from the comforts of my office, I regularly participate in research cruises to collect data in order to ground-truth model predictions. In my work, I often find it useful to think along latitudinal and environmental gradients and use them as natural laboratories.

Current projects

  1. The fundamental role of mesopelagic fishes for the structure and change of Northeast Atlantic marine ecosystems, led by Christian Jørgesen, UiB.

    Within this project I currently work on two different aspects:

    • One, how are vertical migration strategies of mesopelagic fish affected by the extreme seasonality in light in high-latitude ecosystems and what are the ecosystem consequences? Using mechanistic models that link light dependent foraging interactions with temperate-dependent physiology, we show for the first time in vertebrates that seasonality in light constitutes a barrier to range shifts that, importantly, will not move northwards with warming.

    • Two, how are mesopelagic and epipelagic ecosystems linked. I use the case of Greater argentine (Argentina silus), a little studied, but already commercially fished bentho-pelagic deep-water species to explore the emergent niche for advective feeding along gradients of topography, light, and advection.

  3. Impact of artificial light on arctic marine organisms and ecosystems during the polar night, Deep Impact is led by Jørgen Berge, UiT. As part of this project I am currently analysing acoustic observations from a large-scale field experiment conducted during the Polar Night Cruise in January 2020 aimed at understanding the bias of artificial light on ship-based sampling.

  5. Phenotypic plasticity and individual variability in life history traits, subtask led by Øystein Varpe, UiB, contributing to research focus 3 the living Barents Sea within the Nansen Legacy As part of this project I am using mechanistic models of zooplankton-fish interactions to make predictions of trait variability in Calanus spp. along environmental gradients into Arctic waters.
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