Stable isotope analysis reveal hidden reliance on scyphozoan jellyfish in a commensal fish: editorial comment on the feature article by D'Ambra et al

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Author: Chris Harrod
Date: Feb. 2015
From: Marine Biology(Vol. 162, Issue 2)
Publisher: Springer
Document Type: Editorial
Length: 1,234 words
Lexile Measure: 1630L

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We know very little about the ecology of jellyfish and other gelatinous zooplankton and how they interact with other taxa: many biologists consider that their role in ecosystems is likely underestimated (Pauly et al. 2009). As citizens and marine biologists, we are continually exposed to stories (via the news media and even the scientific literature) where jellyfish are shown in a negative light and even as indicators of impending ecological doom. The negative impacts of jellyfish blooms on aquaculture and fisheries are well documented, but sometimes I feel that we are approaching a point where (to some observers) the presence of normal densities of jellyfish in marine ecosystems is considered an indication of perturbation, even though jellyfish and associated taxa are natural components of such systems.

Some marine biologists have worked hard to counter the consistent negative spin regarding jellyfish. Condon et al. (2013) examined the veracity of the well-reported global rise of jellyfish, and in a recent book chapter, Doyle et al. (2014) highlighted the positive side of jellyfish in terms of their important ecological roles and the goods and services they provide to human society. The wider public are well aware of the importance of jellyfish as prey to some charismatic megafauna including leatherback turtles and sunfish (although recent studies show that relationship between jellyfish and sunfish may be less clear than previously thought (Harrod et al. 2013; Nakamura and Sato 2014)). Less well known, at least by those not working on jellyfish, is the fact that individual jellyfish are often found in association with a diverse range of commensal organisms, including invertebrates (e.g. crabs, amphipods) and early life stages of fish, many of which are ecologically and economically important (Doyle et al. 2014).

A long debate has revolved around the precise form of the primary relationship between commensal taxa and their jellyfish hosts. Does the...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A405924512