Biological Invasions

, Volume 13, Issue 12, pp 2647–2660 | Cite as

Spatio-temporal overlap of the alien invasive ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi and ichthyoplankton in the Bornholm Basin (Baltic Sea)

  • Matthias Schaber
  • Holger Haslob
  • Bastian Huwer
  • Anne Harjes
  • Hans-Harald Hinrichsen
  • Marie Storr-Paulsen
  • Jörn O. Schmidt
  • Rüdiger Voss
  • Viola Neumann
  • Friedrich W. Köster
Original Paper


In 2007 the alien invasive ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi A. Agassiz 1865 was recorded for the first time in the Bornholm Basin, an area which serves as important spawning ground for Baltic fish stocks. Since M. leidyi is capable of preying upon early life stages of fish and further might act as food competitor for fish larvae, it is of major concern to investigate the potential threat that this non-indigenous species poses to the pelagic ecosystem of the Baltic Sea. The present study investigates the temporal and spatial overlap of M. leidyi with eggs and larvae of Baltic cod (Gadus morhua L.) and sprat (Sprattus sprattus L.) in order to assess the potential impact of this new invader on two of the most important Baltic fish stocks. Results show variable inter-seasonal distribution and overlap dynamics and thus different seasonal threat-scenarios for the early life stages of cod and sprat. The spatial overlap between M. leidyi and ichthyoplankton was low for most of the period observed, and we conclude that M. leidyi presently does not have a strong impact. However, we detected situations with high overlaps, e.g. for sprat larvae and cod eggs in spring. As the population dynamics of M. leidyi in the central Baltic are not yet fully understood, a future population explosion of the alien ctenophore with possible effects on fish recruitment cannot be ruled out. Furthermore, a possible shift in peak spawning of cod to the early season, when ctenophore abundances were relatively high, might increase the impact of M. leidyi on cod.


Alien invasive ctenophore Non-indigenous species Predator–prey overlap Gadus morhua Sprattus sprattus 



This study has been carried out with financial support from the European Commission (FP6 contract No. 022717, “Understanding the mechanisms of stock recovery” and contract No. 511106-2, “European network of excellence for ocean ecosystems analysis”). It does not necessarily reflect its views and in no ways anticipates the Commission’s future policy in this area. The study was also partly financed and conducted as part of the international Femern Belt Science Provision Project. Thanks go to the crews of RV “Alkor” and RV “Dana” as well as to R. Lüthje and S. Mees for technical support. We also like to thank the anonymous reviewers for giving useful comments and suggestions to improve the first version of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthias Schaber
    • 1
  • Holger Haslob
    • 2
  • Bastian Huwer
    • 3
  • Anne Harjes
    • 2
  • Hans-Harald Hinrichsen
    • 2
  • Marie Storr-Paulsen
    • 3
  • Jörn O. Schmidt
    • 4
  • Rüdiger Voss
    • 4
  • Viola Neumann
    • 3
  • Friedrich W. Köster
    • 3
  1. 1.Johann Heinrich von Thünen-Institute, Federal Research Institute for Rural Areas, Forestry and FisheriesInstitute of Sea FisheriesHamburgGermany
  2. 2.Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences, IFM-GEOMAREvolutionary Ecology of Marine FishesKielGermany
  3. 3.Technical University of Denmark, National Institute of Aquatic ResourcesCharlottenlundDenmark
  4. 4.Sustainable Fishery, Department of EconomicsUniversity of KielKielGermany

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