, Volume 151, Issue 3, pp 1021-1033
Date: 30 Nov 2006

Abundance, distribution and prey composition of scyphomedusae in the southern North Sea

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Abstract

The annual cycle of abundance and distribution of the scyphozoan medusae Aurelia aurita, Cyanea lamarckii, C. capillata and Chrysaora hysoscella were studied in the southern North Sea in 2004 and 2005. Three different patterns of seasonal occurrence of medusae were distinguished: (1) the early occurring C. lamarckii (February–August), (2) C. capillata and A. aurita (April–August) and (3) the late appearing C. hysoscella (July/August–September). Cyanea lamarckii was the most frequently encountered species in this study; its highest mean abundance was 1.8 ± 2.7 ind. 100 m−3. The prey spectra of C. lamarckii, C. capillata and C. hysoscella contained several copepod and other crustacean species and thus make them potential competitors with fish larvae. Medusae in this study also consumed fish eggs and larvae, including clupeids, in all months analysed. Although peak spawning of sprat (Sprattus sprattus) coincides with the maximum abundance of medusae (May–June) the relative low abundance of all medusae species in this study makes jellyfish predation unlikely to be a factor controlling sprat recruitment in the time frame investigated.

Communicated by O. Kinne, Oldendorf/Luhe.