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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 129:63-70 (1995)  -  doi:10.3354/meps129063

Predation by the scyphomedusan Chrysaora quinquecirrha on Mnemiopsis leidyi ctenophores

Purcell JE, Cowan Jr JH

Numerous species of gelatinous zooplankton are known to eat ctenophores, but their predation interactions have seldom been studied. Laboratory experiments showed that Chrysaoraquinquecirrha medusae (3 to 20 mm diameter) usually consumed entire ctenophores (Mnemiopsis leidyi) that were equal in diameter or smaller. Although ctenophores larger in diameter than medusae were sometimes consumed completely, often only the lobes of the ctenophores were eaten. These damaged ctenophores healed in the laboratory. Short-lobed ctenophores had reduced fecundity, and probably lowered feeding rates as well. Short-lobed ctenophores were abundant (24 to 76% of the population) insitu during 1990. Large medusae (40 to 120 mm diameter) in 3.2 m3insitu mesocosms cleared ctenophores at high rates (up to 6180 l d-1). Clearance rates of medusae decreased with increasing ctenophore density and size, and increased with medusa size. The laboratory-determined clearance rate equation, in combination with medusa sizes and densities insitu, predicted that medusae could eliminate ctenophores from a tributary, but not at 2 stations in the main-stem Chesapeake Bay (USA), which was in agreement with insitu population data. The multiple negative effects of C. quinquecirrha on M. leidyi populations may lead to complex community-level changes that actually may reduce mortality of zooplankton and ichthyoplankton.

Medusae . Jellyfish . Cnidaria . Ctenophora . Predation . Intraguild . Clearance rates . Feeding rates . Mesocosms

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