Jellyfish on the menu: MtDNA assay reveals scyphozoan predation in the Irish sea

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Abstract

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.

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Lamb, P. D., Hunter, E., Pinnegar, J. K., Creer, S., Davies, R. G., & Taylor, M. I. (2017). Jellyfish on the menu: MtDNA assay reveals scyphozoan predation in the Irish sea. Royal Society Open Science, 4(11). https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.171421

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