Marine Biology

, Volume 150, Issue 3, pp 329–343 | Cite as

Trophic ecology and the related functional morphology of the deepwater medusa Periphylla periphylla (Scyphozoa, Coronata)

  • Ilka SötjeEmail author
  • Henry Tiemann
  • Ulf Båmstedt
Research Article


Remotely operated vehicle (ROV)-based field studies on the distribution and behaviour of Periphylla periphylla Péron and Lesueur (Ann Mus Hist Nat Marseille 14:316–366, 1809), from three Norwegian fjords have been combined with on-board experiments and morphological and histological studies in order to understand the trophic ecology of this species. Field studies from one of the fjords showed that the zooplankton biomass was negatively related with P. periphylla abundance, indicating a predatory effect. The majority of zooplankton biomass tended to be distributed above the aggregation of P. periphylla, which in turn showed highest abundance at 100–200 m depth. Observation on the orientation of medusae passing the ROV when descending down in the water column at dawn and dusk, showed no consistency with the theory of diel vertical migration. Estimated metabolic demand of P. periphylla indicated a daily predation impact on the prey assemblage of 13% as an average for the fjord. In situ behavioural observations showed that the dominant tentacle posture of large medusae was straight upward, with tentacles extended to the oral–aboral body axis. The hunting mode alternates between ambush and ramming, whereby tentacle posture minimises the water turbulence that may otherwise alarm the prey. The musculature of the tentacles is well developed, with an especially strong longitudinal muscle on the oral side, facilitating fast movement of the tentacle towards the mouth. In addition, ring-, radial-, and diagonal musculatures are also present. The diagonal is probably most important for the corkscrew retraction of the tentacle, used at the moment of prey capture. Results from laboratory experiments show that different body-parts of P. periphylla vary in sensitivity for chemical and mechanical stimuli, including hydrodynamic disturbance and vibration in the surrounding water. Feeding success is facilitated by combining the vibration-sense on the tentacle tips and the marginal lappets, the touch-sense on the tentacle bases and marginal lappets, and a taste control of the captured prey at the mouthlips.


Longitudinal Muscle Zooplankton Biomass Diel Vertical Migration Ambush Remotely Operate Vehicle 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank the crew on R.V. “Håkon Mosby” for quality working facilities. We are thankful for the support from the European Union through the TMR (Training and Mobility of Researchers) Programme (contact no. ERBFMGECT950013) and the EUROGEL-Project (contract no. EVK3-CT-2002-00074) and Norwegian Research Council project no 146994/S40 at the University of Bergen. We are grateful to R. Walter for technical assistance with electron microscopy and thankful to B.D. Johnston for the English language revision. The experiments comply with the current laws of Norway and Germany.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biocenter Grindel and Zoological MuseumUniversity of HamburgHamburgGermany
  2. 2.Department of BiologyUniversity of BergenBergenNorway
  3. 3.Umeå Marine Science CentreUniversity of UmeåHörneforsSweden

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