Ecosystem relevance of variable jellyfish biomass in the Irish Sea between years, regions and water types

Bastian,T, Lilley,MKS, Beggs,SE, Hays,GC and Doyle,TK 2014, Ecosystem relevance of variable jellyfish biomass in the Irish Sea between years, regions and water types, Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, vol. 149, pp. 302-312, doi: 10.1016/j.ecss.2014.08.018.

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Title Ecosystem relevance of variable jellyfish biomass in the Irish Sea between years, regions and water types
Author(s) Bastian,T
Hays,GCORCID iD for Hays,GC
Journal name Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science
Volume number 149
Start page 302
End page 312
Total pages 11
Publisher Academic Press
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publication date 2014-08-05
ISSN 0272-7714
Keyword(s) Cnidaria
Irish sea
Quantitative distribution
Spatial variations
Temporal variations
Western european shelf
Summary Monitoring the abundance and distribution of taxa is essential to assess their contribution to ecosystem processes. For marine taxa that are difficult to study or have long been perceived of little ecological importance, quantitative information is often lacking. This is the case for jellyfish (medusae and other gelatinous plankton). In the present work, 4 years of scyphomedusae by-catch data from the 2007-2010 Irish Sea juvenile gadoid fish survey were analysed with three main objectives: (1) to provide quantitative and spatially-explicit species-specific biomass data, for a region known to have an increasing trend in jellyfish abundance; (2) to investigate whether year-to-year changes in catch-biomass are due to changes in the numbers or in the size of medusa (assessed as the mean mass per individual), and (3) to determine whether inter-annual variation patterns are consistent between species and water masses. Scyphomedusae were present in 97% of samples (N=306). Their overall annual median catch-biomass ranged from 0.19 to 0.92gm-3 (or 8.6 to 42.4gm-2). Aurelia aurita and Cyanea spp. (Cyanea lamarckii and Cyanea capillata) made up 77.7% and 21.5% of the total catch-biomass respectively, but species contributions varied greatly between sub-regions and years. No consistent pattern was detected between the distribution and inter-annual variations of the two genera, and contrasting inter-annual patterns emerged when considering abundance either as biomass or as density. Significantly, A.aurita medusae were heavier in stratified than in mixed waters, which we hypothesize may be linked to differences in timing and yield of primary and secondary productions between water masses. These results show the vulnerability of time-series from bycatch datasets to phenological changes and highlight the importance of taking species- and population-specific distribution patterns into account when integrating jellyfish into ecosystem models.
Language eng
DOI 10.1016/j.ecss.2014.08.018
Field of Research 060299 Ecology not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective 960808 Marine Flora
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2014, Academic Press
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