, Volume 579, Issue 1, pp 29–39 | Cite as

The broad-scale distribution of five jellyfish species across a temperate coastal environment

  • Thomas K. Doyle
  • Jonathan D. R. Houghton
  • Sarah M. Buckley
  • Graeme C. Hays
  • John Davenport
Primary Research Paper


Jellyfish (medusae) are sometimes the most noticeable and abundant members of coastal planktonic communities, yet ironically, this high conspicuousness is not reflected in our overall understanding of their spatial distributions across large expanses of water. Here, we set out to elucidate the spatial (and temporal) patterns for five jellyfish species (Phylum Cnidaria, Orders Rhizostomeae and Semaeostomeae) across the Irish & Celtic Seas, an extensive shelf-sea area at Europe’s northwesterly margin encompassing several thousand square kilometers. Data were gathered using two independent methods: (1) surface-counts of jellyfish from ships of opportunity, and (2) regular shoreline surveys for stranding events over three consecutive years. Jellyfish species displayed distinct species-specific distributions, with an apparent segregation of some species. Furthermore, a different species composition was noticeable between the northern and southern parts of the study area. Most importantly, our data suggests that jellyfish distributions broadly reflect the major hydrographic regimes (and associated physical discontinuities) of the study area, with mixed water masses possibly acting as a trophic barrier or non-favourable environment for the successful growth and reproduction of jellyfish species.


Irish Sea Hydrographic regimes Rhizostomeae Semaeostomeae 



Funding was provided by INTERREG IIIA (European Regional Development Fund), the Countryside Council for Wales Species Challenge Fund and the Marine Conservation Society. Special thanks to David Jones, Vincent, Sean and Christina Rooney, Jim and Rose Hurley, Kevin McCormick, Eithne Lee, Maria Doyle, Kate Williamson, Irena Kruszona and colleagues, Vernon Jones and Tom Stringell.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas K. Doyle
    • 1
    • 3
  • Jonathan D. R. Houghton
    • 2
  • Sarah M. Buckley
    • 3
  • Graeme C. Hays
    • 2
  • John Davenport
    • 3
  1. 1.Environmental Research InstituteUniversity College CorkCorkIreland
  2. 2.Institute of Environmental Sustainability, School of the Environment and SocietyUniversity of Wales SwanseaSwanseaUK
  3. 3.Department of Zoology, Ecology and Plant SciencesUniversity College CorkNorth Mall CorkIreland

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