Predation potential of the jellyfish Drymonema larsoni Bayha & Dawson (Scyphozoa: Drymonematidae) on the moon jellyfish Aurelia sp. in the northern Gulf of Mexico

  • Keith M. BayhaEmail author
  • William M. Graham
  • John E. Higgins III
  • Heather A. Fletcher
Part of the Developments in Hydrobiology book series (DIHY, volume 220)


The jellyfish Drymonema larsoni bloomed in the northern Gulf of Mexico in the Fall of 2000 and fed voraciously on the moon jellyfish Aurelia sp., especially where they were concentrated in frontal convergence. We evaluated the predation potential of D. larsoni on Aurelia sp. medusa using laboratory and field data. Our data set represents the most complete study to date on the new scyphozoan family Drymonematidae and indicates that D. larsoni may be one of the most effective predators on other jellyfish recorded to date. On average, each D. larsoni medusa contained 2.7 Aurelia sp. prey, but as many as 34. In addition, 94% of moon jellyfish unassociated with D. larsoni showed scarring from previous contact with D. larsoni tentacles. Digestion times for D. larsoni feeding on individual Aurelia sp. ranged from 2 to 3 h and averaged 2.7 h. Potential clearance rates for predation on Aurelia sp. were extremely high (320–1043.5 m3 d−1) and indicate that D. larsoni is potentially an important predator on Aurelia sp. blooms where the species co-occur. When the two species co-occur in numbers, predation by D. larsoni medusae could reduce moon jellyfish blooms, possibly alleviating predation pressure on lower trophic levels utilized by Aurelia sp., such as copepods and the early life history stages of ecologically and economically important fish and invertebrate species.


Scyphomedusae Gelatinous zooplankton Intraguild predation Digestion Feeding Gut contents 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.



The authors would like to acknowledge the following for help with field and/or lab work on this project: M. Dardeau, A. Gunter, K. Kirsch, L. Linn, D. Martin, and J. Martin. Feedback from H. Mianzan, J. Purcell and 2 anonymous reviewers greatly improved the manuscript. This work was funded by National Science Foundation Grant OCE-9733441 to WMG.


  1. Båmstedt, U., M. B. Martinussen & S. Matsakis, 1994. Trophodynamics of the two scyphozoan jellyfishes, Aurelia aurita and Cyanea capillata, in western Norway. ICES Journal of Marine Science 51: 369–382.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bayha, K. M. & M. N. Dawson, 2010. New family of allomorphic jellyfishes, Drymonematidae (Scyphozoa, Discomedusae), emphasizes evolution in the functional morphology and trophic ecology of gelatinous zooplankton. Biological Bulletin 219: 249–267.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Bayha, K. M., M. N. Dawson, A. G. Collins, M. S. Barbeitos & S. H. D. Haddock, 2010. Evolutionary relationships among scyphozoan jellyfish families based on complete taxon sampling and phylogenetic analyses of 18S and 28S ribosomal DNA. Integrative and Comparative Biology 50: 436–455.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brewer, R. H., 1989. The annual pattern of feeding, growth, and sexual reproduction in Cyanea (Cnidaria: Scyphozoa) in the Niantic River estuary, Connecticut. Biological Bulletin 176: 272–281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Feigenbaum, D. & M. Kelly, 1984. Changes in the lower Chesapeake Bay food chain in presence of the sea nettle Chrysaora quinquecirrha (Scyphomedusa). Marine Ecology Progress Series 19: 39–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Graham, W. M., D. L. Martin & J. C. Martin, 2003a. In situ quantification and analysis of large jellyfish using a novel video profiler. Marine Ecology Progress Series 254: 129–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Graham, W. M., D. L. Martin, D. Felder, V. Asper & H. Perry, 2003b. Ecological and economic implications of a tropical jellyfish invader in the Gulf of Mexico. Biological Invasions 5: 53–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Hansson, L. J., 1997. Capture and digestion of the scyphozoan jellyfish Aurelia aurita by Cyanea capillata and prey response to predator contact. Journal of Plankton Research 19: 195–208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Hosia, A. & J. Titelman, 2010. Intraguild predation between the native North Sea jellyfish Cyanea capillata and the invasive ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi. Journal of Plankton Research 33: 535–540.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Kramp, P. L., 1961. Synopsis of the medusae of the world. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 40: 7–382.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Kreps, T. A., J. E. Purcell & K. B. Heidelberg, 1997. Escape of the ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi from the scyphomedusa predator Chrysaora quinquecirrha. Marine Biology 128: 441–446.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Larson, R. J., 1987. First report of the little-known scyphomedusa Drymonema dalmatinum in the Caribbean Sea, with notes on its biology. Bulletin of Marine Science 40: 437–441.Google Scholar
  13. Lebour, M. V., 1923. The food of plankton organisms. II. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 13: 70–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Martinussen, M. B. & U. Båmstedt, 1999. Nutritional ecology of gelatinous planktonic predators. Digestion rate in relation to type and amount of prey. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 232: 61–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Martinussen, M. B. & U. Bämstedt, 2001. Digestion rate in relation to temperature of two gelatinous planktonic predators. Sarsia 86: 21–36.Google Scholar
  16. Mayer, A. G., 1910. Medusae of the world, III: the Scyphomedusae. Carnegie Institute, Washington.Google Scholar
  17. Mianzan, H. W., 1989. Sistemática y zoogeografía de Scyphomedusae en aguas neríticas argentinas. Investigaciones Marinas CICIMAR 4: 15–34.Google Scholar
  18. Möller, H., 1980. Scyphomedusae as predators and food competitors of larval fish. Kieler Meeresforsch 28: 90–100.Google Scholar
  19. Plotnikova, E. D., 1961. On the diet of medusae in the littoral of eastern Murman. In Kamshilov, M. (ed.), Hydrological and Biological Features of the Shore Waters of Murman. Akademia Nauk SSSR, Murmansk: 153–166.Google Scholar
  20. Purcell, J. E., 1991. Predation by Aequorea victoria on other species of potentially competing pelagic hydrozoans. Marine Ecology Progress Series 72: 255–260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Purcell, J. E., S. Uye & W. Lo, 2007. Anthropogenic causes of jellyfish blooms and their direct consequences for humans: a review. Marine Ecology Progress Series 350: 153–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Stiasny, G., 1940. Über Drymonema dalmatina Haeckel. Zoolgische Jahrbücher 66: 437–462.Google Scholar
  23. Strand, S. W. & W. M. Hamner, 1988. Predatory behavior of Phacellophora camtschatica and size-selective predation upon Aurelia aurita (Scyphozoa: Cnidaria) in Saanich Inlet, British Columbia. Marine Biology 99: 409–414.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Titelman, J., L. Gandon, A. Goarant & T. Nilsen, 2007. Intraguild predatory interactions between the jellyfish Cyanea capillata and Aurelia aurita. Marine Biology 152: 745–756.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Williams, E. H., L. Bunkley-Williams, C. G. Lilyestrom, R. J. Larson, N. A. Engstrom, E. A. R. Ortiz-Corps & J. H. Timber, 2001. A population explosion of the rare tropical/subtropical purple sea mane, Drymonema dalmatinum, around Puerto Rico in the summer and fall of 1999. Caribbean Journal of Science 37: 127–129.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Keith M. Bayha
    • 1
    Email author
  • William M. Graham
    • 2
  • John E. Higgins III
    • 1
    • 3
  • Heather A. Fletcher
    • 1
  1. 1.Dauphin Island Sea LabDauphin IslandUSA
  2. 2.University of Southern MississippiStennis Space CenterUSA
  3. 3.University of South AlabamaMobileUSA

Personalised recommendations