, Volume 451, Issue 1, pp 199–212

A physical context for gelatinous zooplankton aggregations: a review

  • William M. Graham
  • Fransesc Pagès
  • William M. Hamner

DOI: 10.1023/A:1011876004427

Cite this article as:
Graham, W.M., Pagès, F. & Hamner, W.M. Hydrobiologia (2001) 451: 199. doi:10.1023/A:1011876004427


The magnitude and extent of jellyfish blooms are influenced not only by the biology and behavior of the animal, but also by the geographic setting and physical environment. Hydrography alone is often thought to cause or favor gelatinous zooplankton aggregations, however, it is clear that interactions between biology of the animal and physics of the water are very important sources of population variations, especially at local scales. We summarize the role of physical processes and phenomena that promote aggregations of gelatinous zooplankton. We have identified and discussed a suite of physical gradients that can be perceived by gelatinous zooplankton. These include light, gravity, temperature, salinity, pressure and turbulence. A recurring theme is accumulation of jellyfish around physical discontinuities such as fronts (shelf-break, upwelling, tidal and estuarine) and pycnoclines (thermoclines and haloclines). Interestingly, there are few data to suggest that large-scale, quasi-stationary features, such as the largest oceanic fronts, serve to physically aggregate gelatinous animals at a similar scale. Rather, examples of local aggregations appear to dominate the literature. We also discuss various jellyfish behaviors that are theorized to promote aggregation, feeding and reproduction in relation to physical discontinuities.

jellyfish bloomsfrontsbehaviorthermoclineshaloclines

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • William M. Graham
    • 1
  • Fransesc Pagès
    • 2
  • William M. Hamner
    • 3
  1. 1.Dauphin Island Sea Lab and Department of Marine SciencesUniversity of South AlabamaDauphin IslandU.S.A.
  2. 2.Institut de Ciències del Mar (CSIC)Barcelona, CataloniaSpain
  3. 3.Department of Organismal Biology, Ecology and EvolutionUniversity of California, Los AngelesLos AngelesU.S.A.