MEPS 591:101-116 (2018)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12332

Trophic interactions of the jellyfish Pelagia noctiluca in the NW Mediterranean: evidence from stable isotope signatures and fatty acid composition

Uxue Tilves1,*, Verónica L. Fuentes1, Giacomo Milisenda2, Christopher C. Parrish3, Salvatrice Vizzini4, Ana Sabatés

1Institut de Ciències del Mar, CSIC, Pg. Maritim de la Barceloneta 37-49, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
2Dipartimento Terra e Ambiente, CNR-IAMC Mazara del Vallo, 91026 Italy
3Department of Ocean Sciences, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, Newfoundland A1C 5S7, Canada
4Department of Earth and Marine Sciences, University of Palermo, via Archirafi 18, 90123 Palermo, Italy
*Corresponding author:
Advance View was available online January 11, 2018

ABSTRACT: Jellyfish have the potential to dominate the pelagic biomass of marine ecosystems, thereby negatively affecting pelagic fish. We investigated the trophic interactions of Pelagia noctiluca (medusae and ephyrae), one of the most abundant and conspicuous jellyfish on the Catalan coast in the NW Mediterranean. A combination of stable isotope and fatty acid analyses was used to obtain a broad picture of the feeding habits of this jellyfish in order to understand its potential interactions with the most abundant fish species (larvae and adults) during the summer in the area. The results suggested that in addition to predation on fish larvae by P. noctiluca, this jellyfish had similar feeding requirements to those of most fish larvae, suggesting potential competition. The trophic niche of medusae and ephyrae overlapped highly with that of larval Engraulis encrasicolus, Trachurus mediterraneus and Sardinella aurita and to a lesser extent with that of Serranus hepatus, Sparus pagrus and Mullus barbatus. No overlap was observed with Arnoglossus sp. larvae and adult E. encrasicolus, Sardina pilchardus, T. mediterraneus and S. aurita. Our findings demonstrated that P. noctiluca could be an important predator and competitor for fish larvae, but not for adult fish. Moreover, salps were found to be a significant food source for P. noctiluca. This study provides information that should be considered in near-future ecosystem-based fishery management in regions where P. noctiluca thrives.


KEY WORDS: Medusae · Ephyrae · Predation · Competition · Fish larvae · Pelagic fish


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Cite this article as: Tilves U, Fuentes VL, Milisenda G, Parrish CC, Vizzini S, Sabatés A (2018) Trophic interactions of the jellyfish Pelagia noctiluca in the NW Mediterranean: evidence from stable isotope signatures and fatty acid composition. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 591:101-116. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12332

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