Predation potential of the jellyfish Drymonema larsoni Bayha & Dawson (Scyphozoa: Drymonematidae) on the moon jellyfish Aurelia sp. in the northern Gulf of Mexico
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The jellyfish Drymonema larsoni bloomed in the northern Gulf of Mexico in the Fall of 2000 and fed voraciously on the moon jellyfish Aurelia sp., especially where they were concentrated in frontal convergence. We evaluated the predation potential of D. larsoni on Aurelia sp. medusa using laboratory and field data. Our data set represents the most complete study to date on the new scyphozoan family Drymonematidae and indicates that D. larsoni may be one of the most effective predators on other jellyfish recorded to date. On average, each D. larsoni medusa contained 2.7 Aurelia sp. prey, but as many as 34. In addition, 94% of moon jellyfish unassociated with D. larsoni showed scarring from previous contact with D. larsoni tentacles. Digestion times for D. larsoni feeding on individual Aurelia sp. ranged from 2 to 3 h and averaged 2.7 h. Potential clearance rates for predation on Aurelia sp. were extremely high (320–1043.5 m3 d−1) and indicate that D. larsoni is potentially an important predator on Aurelia sp. blooms where the species co-occur. When the two species co-occur in numbers, predation by D. larsoni medusae could reduce moon jellyfish blooms, possibly alleviating predation pressure on lower trophic levels utilized by Aurelia sp., such as copepods and the early life history stages of ecologically and economically important fish and invertebrate species.
KeywordsScyphomedusae Gelatinous zooplankton Intraguild predation Digestion Feeding Gut contents
The authors would like to acknowledge the following for help with field and/or lab work on this project: M. Dardeau, A. Gunter, K. Kirsch, L. Linn, D. Martin, and J. Martin. Feedback from H. Mianzan, J. Purcell and 2 anonymous reviewers greatly improved the manuscript. This work was funded by National Science Foundation Grant OCE-9733441 to WMG.
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