, Volume 589, Issue 1, pp 1–13 | Cite as

Stranding events provide indirect insights into the seasonality and persistence of jellyfish medusae (Cnidaria: Scyphozoa)

  • Jonathan David Roy Houghton
  • Thomas K. Doyle
  • John Davenport
  • Martin K. S. Lilley
  • Rory P. Wilson
  • Graeme C. Hays
Primary Research Paper


It is becoming increasingly evident that jellyfish (Cnidaria: Scyphozoa) play an important role within marine ecosystems, yet our knowledge of their seasonality and reproductive strategies is far from complete. Here, we explore a number of life history hypotheses for three common, yet poorly understood scyphozoan jellyfish (Rhizostoma octopus; Chrysaora hysoscella; Cyanea capillata) found throughout the Irish and Celtic Seas. Specifically, we tested whether (1) the bell diameter/wet weight of stranded medusae increased over time in a manner that suggested a single synchronised reproductive cohort; or (2) whether the range of sizes/weights remained broad throughout the stranding period suggesting the protracted release of ephyrae over many months. Stranding data were collected at five sites between 2003 and 2006 (n = 431 surveys; n = 2401 jellyfish). The relationship between bell diameter and wet weight was determined for each species (using fresh specimens collected at sea) so that estimates of wet weight could also be made for stranded individuals. For each species, the broad size and weight ranges of stranded jellyfish implied that the release of ephyrae may be protracted (albeit to different extents) in each species, with individuals of all sizes present in the water column during the summer months. For R. octopus, there was a general increase in both mean bell diameter and wet weight from January through to June which was driven by an increase in the variance and overall range of both variables during the summer. Lastly, we provide further evidence that rhizostome jellyfish may over-wintering as pelagic medusa which we hypothesise may enable them to capitalise on prey available earlier in the year.


Jellyfish Cohorts Cyanea capillata Chrysaora hysoscella Rhizostoma octopus Over-wintering behaviour 



Funding was provided by: (1) INTERREG IIIA (European Regional Development Fund); (2) the Countryside Council for Wales Species Challenge Fund (3) the Marine Conservation Society; (4) National Parks and Wildlife Service (Ireland) and (5) The Marine Institute (Ireland). Special thanks to David Jones, Vincent, Sean and Christina Rooney, Jim and Rose Hurley, Kevin McCormack, Eithne Lee, Maria Doyle, Kate Williamson, Irena Kruszona and colleagues, Vernon Jones, Tom Stringell, Ailish Murphy and Irene Fitzgerald and everyone else who assisted with the shoreline surveys.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jonathan David Roy Houghton
    • 1
  • Thomas K. Doyle
    • 2
    • 3
  • John Davenport
    • 3
  • Martin K. S. Lilley
    • 1
  • Rory P. Wilson
    • 1
  • Graeme C. Hays
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Environmental Sustainability, School of the Environment and SocietyUniversity of Wales SwanseaSwanseaUK
  2. 2.Environmental Research InstituteUniversity College CorkCorkIreland
  3. 3.Department of Zoology, Ecology and Plant ScienceUniversity College CorkCorkIreland

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