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Laboratory study of predation by Aurelia aurita on larvae of cod, flounder, plaice and herring: development and vulnerability to capture

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Capture success of the medusa Aurelia aurita preying on various developmental stages of fish larvae was measured together with larval reactivity and escape speed after being stung. These experiments were conducted in the spring of 1983 with A. aurita medusae collected from Loch Etive, Scotland and laboratory-reared larvae of Gadus morhua L., Platichthys flesus L., Pleuronectes platessa L. and Clupea harengus L. Capture success of the medusae increased with medusa size, but decreased with advancing larval development. Smaller species of larvae were more vulnerable to capture. Larval reactivity to encounters with medusae increased with advancing development, and larger species of larvae were more reactive to encounters. Larval escape swimming speeds also increased with advancing larval development and size. These results indicate that earlier stages of larvae within a species and smaller species of larvae at a given stage are more vulnerable to predation by medusae since they are less reactive to encounters. Apparently they are more susceptible to the effects of neurotoxins. Predation rates on different developmental stages of herring larvae are documented and compared with rates predicted by a predation model. Predictions fell within the range of observed predation rates, but tended to overestimate rates by larger medusae feeding on larger herring larvae. This indicates the possibility of predator satiation and/or behavioural avoidance.

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Literature cited

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Communicated by J. Mauchline, Oban

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Bailey, K.M., Batty, R.S. Laboratory study of predation by Aurelia aurita on larvae of cod, flounder, plaice and herring: development and vulnerability to capture. Mar. Biol. 83, 287–291 (1984). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00397461

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  • Developmental Stage
  • Laboratory Study
  • Larval Development
  • Swimming Speed
  • Predation Rate