Global patterns of epipelagic gelatinous zooplankton biomass
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There is concern that overfishing may lead to a proliferation of jellyfish through a process known as fishing down the food web. However, there has been no global synthesis of patterns of gelatinous zooplankton biomass (GZB), an important first step in determining any future trends. A meta-analysis of epipelagic-GZB patterns was undertaken, encompassing 58 locations on a global scale, and spanning the years 1967–2009. Epipelagic-GZB decreased strongly with increasing total water column depth (r2 = 0.543, p < 0.001, n = 58): in shallow (<50 m) coastal waters, epipelagic-GZB was typically 742× the levels in deep ocean (>2,000 m) sites. However, the ratio of GZB to primary productivity showed high values across a range of depths, i.e. this measure of the relative abundance of gelatinous zooplankton did not co-vary with depth.
KeywordsBiomass Ballast Water Gelatinous Zooplankton Bell Diameter Epipelagic Zone
This work is part of EcoJel a project funded by the Interreg 4a Ireland–Wales programme, which forms part of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF); Natural Environment Research Council (NERC); and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. Author contributions: GCH designed the study. MKSL compiled and analysed the global gelatinous zooplankton data set. GCH and MKSL wrote the paper with contributions from all authors. We wish to thank F. Lombard for advice on the weighted regression. The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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