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MEPS 658:75-88 (2021)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13423

Abundance of Pelagia noctiluca early life stages in the western Mediterranean Sea scales with surface chlorophyll

Daniel Ottmann1,*, Diego Álvarez-Berastegui2, Laura Prieto3, Rosa Balbín1, Francisco Alemany4, Øyvind Fiksen5, Ana Gordoa6, Patricia Reglero1

1Centre Oceanogràfic de les Balears, Instituto Español de Oceanografía (COB-IEO), Moll de Ponent s/n, 07015 Palma de Mallorca, Spain
2Balearic Islands Coastal Observing and Forecasting System (ICTS-SOCIB), Parc Bit, Naorte, Bloc A 2º, 07121 Palma de Mallorca, Spain
3Instituto de Ciencias Marinas de Andalucía, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (ICMAN-CSIC), Republica Saharaui 2, 11519 Puerto Real, Spain
4International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, Corazón de María 8, 28002 Madrid, Spain
5Department of Biological Sciences, University of Bergen, 5020 Bergen, Norway
6Centro de Estudios Avanzados de Blanes, Spanish National Research Council (CEAB-CSIC), 17300 Blanes, Spain
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Pelagia noctiluca is the most successful and well-studied jellyfish in the Mediterranean Sea. This species tolerates a wide range of water temperatures and succeeds in low to medium food regimes, but factors driving its distribution and population dynamics remain poorly understood. Here we applied a multiscale analytical approach using survey data and a physical-biochemical coupled model to assess how environmental factors affect the 3-dimensional distribution and seasonal abundance of P. noctiluca early life stages. The surveys took place after the spring bloom, when warm water favors fecundity and growth, but food shortage limits the reproductive investment and early survival. We found that most early life stages of P. noctiluca remained above the shallow thermocline and upper mixed layer where temperature is warm. Their spatial distribution was positively correlated with surface chlorophyll concentration, and over 90% of the variation in interannual abundance was explained by basin-scale productivity in June. Warmer water during winter and spring seasons coupled with protracted spring blooms increase the population of P. noctiluca, and this explains the trend of increasing outbreaks observed in the western Mediterranean Sea over the past decades.


KEY WORDS: Jellyfish · Ephyra · Metaephyrae · Spatial distribution · Diel vertical migration · Temperature · Chlorophyll concentration


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Cite this article as: Ottmann D, Álvarez-Berastegui D, Prieto L, Balbín R and others (2021) Abundance of Pelagia noctiluca early life stages in the western Mediterranean Sea scales with surface chlorophyll. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 658:75-88. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13423

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