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MEPS
Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 510:215-227 (2014)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10984

Role of the ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi in nutrient cycling in Long Island Sound, New York, USA

Laura M. Treible1,2,*, Darcy J. Lonsdale1, Christopher J. Gobler1

1School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York 11794, USA
2Present address: Center for Marine Science, University of North Carolina Wilmington, Wilmington, North Carolina 28409, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The population dynamics of the ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi are often characterized by a substantial build-up and demise in abundance in coastal and estuarine waters, a pattern that may have a significant impact on nutrient cycling. Since many coastal ecosystems are experiencing negative impacts of eutrophication, there is great interest in quantifying nutrient loading sources. Still, the ability to calculate robust nutrient budgets in many coastal systems has been hampered by a poor understanding of the contribution of gelatinous zooplankton to nutrient pools. Long Island Sound is a highly productive, urban estuary within which M. leidyi occurs, but the role of this species in nutrient cycling was unknown. In 2011, the population biomass and nutrient remineralization rates (i.e. NH4+, PO43-) of M. leidyi in the estuary were evaluated. Ctenophores remineralized NH4+ and PO43- at rates up to 0.62 and 0.13 µmol ind.-1 h-1, respectively, and were capable of substantial release of nutrients upon population demise (39.32 µmol m-3 d-1 of NH4+ and 20.02 µmol m-3 d-1 of PO43-). However, in both cases, these rates were not in quantities sufficient to support a major fraction of primary production (<1% d-1). This study suggests that ctenophores may contribute only in a minor way to nutrient pools in highly eutrophic ecosystems.


KEY WORDS: Gelatinous zooplankton · Nitrogen cycling · Nutrient remineralization · Phosphate cycling


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Cite this article as: Treible LM, Lonsdale DJ, Gobler CJ (2014) Role of the ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi in nutrient cycling in Long Island Sound, New York, USA. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 510:215-227. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10984

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