MEPS 127:39-45 (1995)  -  doi:10.3354/meps127039

Impact of Aurelia aurita medusae (Cnidaria, Scyphozoa) on the standing stock and community composition of mesozooplankton in the Kiel Bight (western Baltic Sea)

Behrends G, Schneider G

During 5 consecutive summer seasons (1990 to 1994) both Aureliaaurita medusa and mesozooplankton abundances were investigated at 2 stations in the Kiel Bight (western Baltic Sea). Stocks of medusae varied considerably between the years, with median abundance of 1 and 0.3 ind. 100 m-3 in 1990 and 1991, 3 and 4 ind. 100 m-3 in 1992 and 1994, but 9 ind. 100 m-3 in 1993. Significant differences in the mesozooplankton stock and community composition were observed in 1993 when compared with the year of rather low Aurelia abundance (1991). Total zooplankton and copepod numbers both exhibited an inverse relationship with the abundance of medusae and were thus considerably lower in 1993 than in 1991. However, not all copepod species were affected by A. aurita. Pseudo- and Paracalanus spp. and Oithonasimilis showed dramatically reduced stocks in the bloom year when compared with the medusa-poor situation, but no significant changes were found for Centropageshamatus and Acartia spp. Also other zooplankton groups with the exception of bivalve larvae were reduced by the medusae. The differential response of zooplankton to varying abundance of medusae led to a shift in the trophic structure of the zooplankton community. Fine-filter feeders and raptorial feeders were much more important in years when medusae occurred in low densities, whereas coarse-filter feeders dominated in the opposite situation.

Aurelia aurita . Mesozooplankton . Predation . Kiel Bight

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