Marine Biology

, Volume 158, Issue 11, pp 2429–2436 | Cite as

Global patterns of epipelagic gelatinous zooplankton biomass

  • M. K. S. Lilley
  • S. E. Beggs
  • T. K. Doyle
  • V. J. Hobson
  • K. H. P. Stromberg
  • G. C. HaysEmail author
Original Paper


There is concern that overfishing may lead to a proliferation of jellyfish through a process known as fishing down the food web. However, there has been no global synthesis of patterns of gelatinous zooplankton biomass (GZB), an important first step in determining any future trends. A meta-analysis of epipelagic-GZB patterns was undertaken, encompassing 58 locations on a global scale, and spanning the years 1967–2009. Epipelagic-GZB decreased strongly with increasing total water column depth (r2 = 0.543, p < 0.001, n = 58): in shallow (<50 m) coastal waters, epipelagic-GZB was typically 742× the levels in deep ocean (>2,000 m) sites. However, the ratio of GZB to primary productivity showed high values across a range of depths, i.e. this measure of the relative abundance of gelatinous zooplankton did not co-vary with depth.


Biomass Ballast Water Gelatinous Zooplankton Bell Diameter Epipelagic Zone 
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.



This work is part of EcoJel a project funded by the Interreg 4a Ireland–Wales programme, which forms part of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF); Natural Environment Research Council (NERC); and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. Author contributions: GCH designed the study. MKSL compiled and analysed the global gelatinous zooplankton data set. GCH and MKSL wrote the paper with contributions from all authors. We wish to thank F. Lombard for advice on the weighted regression. The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

227_2011_1744_MOESM1_ESM.doc (150 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 149 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. K. S. Lilley
    • 1
  • S. E. Beggs
    • 2
  • T. K. Doyle
    • 3
  • V. J. Hobson
    • 1
  • K. H. P. Stromberg
    • 4
  • G. C. Hays
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of BiosciencesSwansea UniversitySingleton Park, SwanseaUK
  2. 2.Fisheries and Aquatic Ecosystems Branch, Agri-Food and Biosciences InstituteNewforge Lane, BelfastUK
  3. 3.Coastal and Marine Research Centre, ERI, University College Cork, Glucksman Marine FacilityCorkIreland
  4. 4.Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological InstituteNorrköpingSweden

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