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Finfish vs jellyfish: complimentary feeding patterns allow threespine stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus and common jellyfish Aurelia aurita to co-exist in a Danish cove

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  • Zoological Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences
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The threespine stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus and the common jellyfish Aurelia aurita are keystone species in many marine ecosystems, including the shallow cove Kertinge Nor, in Denmark. Both species feed on zooplankton, raising the potential for competition between them. While jellyfish are tactile filtering planktivores, sticklebacks are visual feeders that actively detect, attack and capture prey. The study compared clearance rates (Cl) and tested the hypothesis that jellyfish are more efficient in feeding on small prey and sticklebacks on larger prey animals. Individual (Clind) and population (Clpop) feeding characteristics were studied under good visual conditions. Individual sticklebacks (TL = 44 mm) demonstrated 14–51-fold higher Clind than jellyfish (d = 27 mm) when feeding on small (< 1 mm) and medium (1–4 mm) sized prey and threefold higher Clind when feeding on larger prey (4–11 mm). Clpop was calculated for both species based on their densities in the cove. When consuming small- and medium-sized prey in May–July, Clpop for stickleback was 2–20-fold higher than for jellyfish, but in August following a decrease in fish density, Clpop was higher for jellyfish. This may imply higher predation pressure from stickleback on zooplankton in Kertinge Nor at the beginning of the season, though the common jellyfish was considered earlier as a species controlling zooplankton there. The two competing species likely coexist in the cove due to different seasonal cycles of abundance and thus different seasonal patterns of plankton consumption.
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Marine Biology (2018) 165:148
https://doi.org/10.1007/s00227-018-3407-y
ORIGINAL PAPER
Finsh vs jellysh: complimentary feeding patterns allow threespine
stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus andcommon jellysh Aurelia aurita
toco‑exist inaDanish cove
AnastasiaYurtseva1,2 · FlorianLüskow3,4· MarionHatton5· AdèleDoucet6· DmitryLajus2
Received: 26 February 2018 / Accepted: 14 August 2018 / Published online: 24 August 2018
© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018
Abstract
The threespine stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus and the common jellyfish Aurelia aurita are keystone species in many
marine ecosystems, including the shallow cove Kertinge Nor, in Denmark. Both species feed on zooplankton, raising the
potential for competition between them. While jellyfish are tactile filtering planktivores, sticklebacks are visual feeders that
actively detect, attack and capture prey. The study compared clearance rates (Cl) and tested the hypothesis that jellyfish are
more efficient in feeding on small prey and sticklebacks on larger prey animals. Individual (Clind) and population (Clpop)
feeding characteristics were studied under good visual conditions. Individual sticklebacks (TL = 44mm) demonstrated
14–51-fold higher Clind than jellyfish (d = 27mm) when feeding on small (< 1mm) and medium (1–4mm) sized prey and
threefold higher Clind when feeding on larger prey (4–11mm). Clpop was calculated for both species based on their densities
in the cove. When consuming small- and medium-sized prey in May–July, Clpop for stickleback was 2–20-fold higher than
for jellyfish, but in August following a decrease in fish density, Clpop was higher for jellyfish. This may imply higher preda-
tion pressure from stickleback on zooplankton in Kertinge Nor at the beginning of the season, though the common jellyfish
was considered earlier as a species controlling zooplankton there. The two competing species likely coexist in the cove due
to different seasonal cycles of abundance and thus different seasonal patterns of plankton consumption.
Introduction
One of the most obvious changes in many marine ecosys-
tems in recent decades is the considerable increase in bloom
frequency and intensity of gelatinous zooplankton (com-
monly referred to as ‘jellyfish’) in many locations world-
wide (Graham etal. 2001; Purcell 2005). Researchers often
link this increase with various anthropogenic activities that
disrupt the structure and function of marine ecosystems,
such as climate change, pollution and fisheries (Arai 2001;
Richardson etal. 2009; Conley and Sutherland 2015). Fol-
lowing a positive feedback loop (Gershwin 2013), growing
jellyfish populations can further alter marine ecosystems and
thus reduce ecosystem services (Hansson etal. 2005; Flynn
etal. 2012).
Probably one of the most important consequences of
these changes is increasing trophic competition between
jellyfish and small pelagic fish for zooplankton (Purcell and
Arai 2001; Shoji etal. 2005). Therefore, small pelagic fish
would be among the first to suffer in the whole cascade of
changes in marine ecosystems dealing with growing jellyfish
populations. Often, the small pelagic fish themselves have
Responsible Editor: J. Purcell.
Reviewed by A. Malzahn and an undisclosed expert.
Electronic supplementary material The online version of this
article (https ://doi.org/10.1007/s0022 7-018-3407-y) contains
supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
* Anastasia Yurtseva
ayurtseva@gmail.com
1 Laboratory ofIchthyology, Zoological Institute RAS,
199034St.Petersburg, Russia
2 Department ofIchthyology andHydrobiology,
Saint-Petersburg State University, 199178St.Petersburg,
Russia
3 Marine Biological Research Centre, Department ofBiology,
University ofSouthern Denmark, 5300Kerteminde,
Denmark
4 Department ofEarth, Ocean andAtmospheric Sciences,
University ofBritish Columbia, Vancouver, BCV6T1Z4,
Canada
5 Johnson andJohnson Campus de Maigremont,
27100ValdeReuil, France
6 École de Biologie Industrielle, 95800Cergy, France
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
... In contrast, Kiel Bight experiences even stronger fluctuations, including years with strong blooms but also years with very low abundance over time. This has resulted in more consistent and stronger predation impacts of Aurelia aurita on mesozooplankton compared with Kiel Bight, which is controlling the zooplankton biomass at least during late summer (Olesen 1995;Yurtseva et al. 2018) with calculated 1-4 days of half-life expectancies (Lüskow and Riisgård 2016). During years of high abundance of small jellyfish, predation-induced declines in prey have resulted in a feedback loop leading to shrinkage and mortality of jellyfish (Goldstein and Riisgård 2016). ...
... Temporal and spatial dynamics further complicate this picture. For example, in Kertinge Nor, sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus Linnaeus, 1758) and jellyfish both reach high abundances, but at different times of the year, which limits the potential for competition (Yurtseva et al. 2018). However, knowing about effects of fish on jellyfish are crucial in order to understand jellyfish population dynamics in the Baltic Sea. ...
Article
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Despite the diversity and oftentimes large biomass of jellyfish in marine systems, their ecological role remains poorly understood. We here provide the first systematic review of studies on jellyfish trophic ecology in the Baltic Sea (a regional marine system under strong multiple global and regional anthropogenic pressures). In total, we identified 57 peer-reviewed publications, with notable taxonomic bias towards two species (Aurelia aurita; non-indigenous Mnemiopsis leidyi) and spatial bias towards five areas (Bornholm Basin, Kiel Bight, Kertinge Nor, Lim- and Gullmarsfjord). The studies provide evidence for diverse trophic roles of jellyfish as predators and as competitors of other jellyfish, zooplankton and fish species. In combination, the studies also highlight potentially large impacts via top-down (grazing) and bottom-up (nutrient excretion) effects, but also, strong spatio-temporal variability in the magnitude of these effects, depending on the occurrence of jellyfish blooms. Studies on the role of jellyfish as prey for fish, seabirds or marine mammals, and for benthic systems via food-falls, were limited or lacking for the Baltic Sea, despite increasing focus on these topics globally. Improved understanding of the temporal (seasonal, inter-annual, long-term) and spatial variability of blooms and corresponding trophic effects, would provide more systematic understanding of the ecological role of jellyfish in the spatio-temporally variable Baltic Sea. A broader spatial coverage, inclusion of more jellyfish taxa and under-studied early life history stages, as well as the implementation and continuation of long-term data series would represent important steps towards this goal.
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Threespine stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus (Linnaeus, 1758) is one of the most widely distributed fish species, living both in fresh and marine waters of the northern part of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans (Berg, 1949; Wootton, 1984). At present, the sticklebacks are the most abundant pelagic fish in the White Sea (Ivanova et al., 2016). Here stickleback spawn in shallow waters, preferring seagrass beds (Lajus et al., 2013). The Kandalaksha Bay with its extremely indented costal line and numerous shallow inlets with dense seagrass beds (primarily eelgrass Zostera marina (Linnaeus, 1753)) create favorable conditions for spawning stickleback (Ziuganov, 1991; Ivanova et al., 2016). The eggs develop in the nests, being guarded by males. Males aerate eggs and remove unfertilized and dead ones. Females sometime after spawning stay on the spawning grounds and actively feed. They often attack on the nests with a purpose to prey on eggs and larvae of their own species (Mukhomediarov, 1966). The results of the study show that the White Sea stickleback is a typical omnivorous species. They prey on benthos, eggs and juvenile fish, imago of flying insects and plankton. In summer, during spawning period, stickleback is mostly benthivores. Their stomach content is correlates with characteristics of the spawning grounds. In the traditionally “good” spawning grounds, where the density of fish, and therefore density of eggs is high (Demchuk et al., 2018), and the stickleback eggs is a preferable food item. During spawning, the diet changes accordingly to the change of availability of different food items, and by the end of the spawning, the feeding intensity increases, especially in females. Despite the wide range of food items of the stickleback and its high variability during the spawning season, not more than 2-3 components dominate at once.
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