Ecological and Societal Benefits of Jellyfish

  • Thomas K. DoyleEmail author
  • Graeme C. Hays
  • Chris Harrod
  • Jonathan D. R. HoughtonEmail author


Jellyfish are often considered as stressors on marine ecosystems or as indicators of highly perturbed systems. Far less attention is given to the potential of such species to provide beneficial ecosystem services in their own right. In an attempt to redress this imbalance, we take the liberty of portraying jellyfish in a positive light and suggest that the story is not entirely one of doom and gloom. More specifically, we outline how gelatinous marine species contribute to the four categories of ecosystem services (regulating, supporting, provisioning and cultural) defined by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. This discussion ranges from the role of jellyfish in carbon capture and advection to the deep ocean through to the creation of microhabitat for developing fishes and the advancement of citizen science programmes. Attention is paid also to incorporation of gelatinous species into fisheries or ecosystem-level models and the mechanisms by which we can improve the transfer of information between jellyfish researchers and the wider non-specialist community.


Jellyfish blooms Ecosystem services Jelly-falls Carbon sequestration Jellyfish fisheries Green fluorescent proteins Nutrient cycling Predator-prey interactions Pelagic refugia Eco-tourism 



We would like to acknowledge the following research grants: EcoJel project, funded through the INTERREG IVA programme of the European Regional Development Fund (TKD, GCH), and the GilPat project under the Sea Change strategy with the support of the Marine Institute and the Marine Research Sub-Programme of the National Development Plan 2007–2013 (cofinanced under the European Regional Development Fund) (TKD). We would also like to acknowledge Prof. F Boero and an anonymous reviewer for providing useful comments to help improve this chapter and to MC Gallagher for helpful comments on jellyfish-fish associations. Finally, we thank Cathy Lucas for her contribution to this chapter.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Coastal and Marine Research Centre, ERIUniversity College CorkCounty CorkRepublic of Ireland
  2. 2.Department of BiosciencesSwansea UniversitySwanseaUK
  3. 3.Centre for Integrative Ecology, School of Life and Environmental SciencesDeakin UniversityWarrnamboolAustralia
  4. 4.Instituto de Investigaciones OceanológicasUniversidad de AntofagastaAntofagastaChile
  5. 5.School of Biological and Chemical SciencesQueen Mary University of LondonLondonUK
  6. 6.School of Biological SciencesQueen’s University, BelfastBelfastUK

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