Science Serving Maryland's Coasts

Amanda Liss, University of North Carolina, Greensboro

Class Year: 
2008

Project Title: 

The Effects of Low Temperature on the Sea Nettle Chrysaora quinquecirrha in the Choptank River

Abstract: 

Seasonal jellyfish blooms are ecologically important events that affect food web dynamics in coastal systems throughout the world. Additionally, high concentrations of jellyfish can cause significant economic losses by interfering with fisheries, aquaculture operations, nuclear power plants, and tourism. The paucity of existing information on bloom development and diminution exacerbates the task of reducing or avoiding the associated problems. This work is part of a larger goal to improve our understanding of the causative factors that influence jellyfish blooms and to utilize this information for forecasting purposes. Data from recent years shows a relationship between temperature and the disappearance of sea nettles from both the surface and the riverbed. This study focuses on further understanding this relationship by exposing sea nettles to low temperatures and observing the vertical position and locomotion of each medusa. Our findings show low temperatures significantly influence the vertical position of Scyphomedusan Chrysaora quinquecirrha in the water column. Results suggest that below a threshold value of 15°C, the swimming ability of the medusae is significantly impaired causing them to sink to the bottom of the water column. This provides the basis for future studies to assess the fate of organic carbon associated with the biomass of this top predator, which may have significant implications for pelagic-benthic processes including carbon cycling and trophic interactions.

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