, 616:269 | Cite as

Ontogenetic changes in the ecological function of the association behavior between jack mackerel Trachurus japonicus and jellyfish

  • Reiji Masuda


Commensal behavior of jack mackerel Trachurus japonicus (Temminck & Schlegel) with jellyfishes has been widely observed but its ecological function is still unclear. The goal of the present research is to examine the function of association behavior with jellyfish in the laboratory and in field observations with an emphasis on ontogenetic changes. In the laboratory, jack mackerel juveniles (mean standard length (SL) = 11, 19, 38, and 55 mm) were placed in 500-l polycarbonate tanks with two live moon jellyfish, Aurelia aurita (Linné), and one artificial jellyfish made of silicon. Association behavior with either live or artificial jellyfish was visually observed under the following conditions: control, presence of a predator model, before and after feeding live Artemia, 1 h and 3 h after feeding, and at night. Jack mackerel at 11 mm SL associated with both the moon jellyfish and artificial jellyfish, unrelated to the presence of a predator model or feeding. Juveniles at 19 mm associated with moon jellyfish only in the presence of a predator model. Larger juveniles associated with moon jellyfish at 1 h and 3 h after feeding. Thus the ecological function of association was proposed to develop first from school formation, next as a hiding place from predators, and then as a food source. Underwater observations of jack mackerel associating with giant jellyfish Nemopilema nomurai (Kishinouye) in two different areas in the Sea of Japan supported this hypothesis. High predation pressure from benthic piscivorous fishes in the southern area (Tsushima) may encourage association with jellyfish, whereas pressure from pelagic predators in the northern area (Maizuru) may encourage settlement to rocky reef habitats in temperate waters. Thus the jellyfish may also function as a vehicle for the northward migration of this species.


Association behavior Commensal behavior Trachurus japonicus Aurelia aurita Nemopilema nomurai Behavioral ontogeny 



I thank Jenny Purcell, Kylie Pitt and two anonymous reviewers for providing constructive comments on the early version of the manuscript. This study was supported by the FRECS and STOPJELLY projects from the Fisheries Agency of Japan.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Maizuru Fisheries Research StationKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan

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