, Volume 147, Issue 2, pp 465-476
Date: 04 Mar 2005

Seasonal development of scyphozoan medusae and the predatory impact of Aurelia aurita on the zooplankton community in the Bornholm Basin (central Baltic Sea)

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Abstract

The annual cycle of abundance and distribution of the scyphozoan medusae Aurelia aurita and Cyanea capillata was studied in the Bornholm Basin (central Baltic Sea) in 2002. Seasonal changes in prey composition and predatory impact were investigated by analyzing stomach contents. A. aurita occurred from July to November, with a maximum mean abundance of 2.3 ind. per 100 m3 in August, whereas C. capillata was caught in much smaller numbers from July to September. No ephyrae of either species were found; therefore, advection of medusae from the western Baltic Sea is assumed. From July to October, ~80% of A. aurita medusae was distributed in the upper 20 m above the thermocline, whereas C. capillata occurred only in the halocline below 45 m. A. aurita did not migrate vertically and fed mainly on the most abundant cladoceran species Bosmina coregoni maritima. Further prey organisms were the cladocerans Evadne nordmanni and Podon spp., mollusk larvae and copepods. Copepod nauplii and copepodite stages I–III were not eaten by the medusae, neither were fish eggs and larvae used as prey. Based on mean medusa and zooplankton abundance from the upper 20 m, the predatory impact was very low. In August, when mean abundance of A. aurita was highest, only 0.1% of the copepod and 0.5% of the cladoceran standing stock were eaten per day. However, in regions with higher medusa or lower zooplankton abundance, up to 7.9% of the cladoceran standing stock was consumed per day. Hence, A. aurita did not regulate the zooplankton community in the Bornholm Basin, and fish larvae did not suffer from competition with and predation by the medusae.

Communicated by O. Kinne, Oldendorf/Luhe