Jellyfish on the menu: mtaDNA assay reveals scyphozoan predation in the Irish Sea

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  • Philip D. Lamb
    University of East Anglia
  • Ewan Hunter
    University of East Anglia
  • John K. Pinnegar
    University of East Anglia
  • Simon Creer
  • Richard G. Davies
    University of East Anglia
  • Martin I. Taylor
    University of East Anglia
Localized outbreaks of jellyfish, known as blooms, cause a variety of adverse ecological and economic effects. However, fundamental aspects of their ecology remain unknown. Notably, there is scant information on the role jellyfish occupy in food webs: in many ecosystems, few or no predators are known. To identify jellyfish consumers in the Irish Sea, we conducted a molecular gut content assessment of 50 potential predators using cnidarian-specific mtDNA primers and sequencing. We show that jellyfish predation may be more common than previously acknowledged: uncovering many previously unknown jellyfish predators. A substantial proportion of herring and whiting were found to have consumed jellyfish. Rare ingestion was also detected in a variety of other species. Given the phenology of jellyfish in the region, we suggest that the predation was probably targeting juvenile stages of the jellyfish life cycle.
Original languageEnglish
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Publication statusPublished - 29 Nov 2017

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