Population Fluctuations of Jellyfish in the Bering Sea and Their Ecological Role in This Productive Shelf Ecosystem

  • Mary Beth DeckerEmail author
  • Kristin Cieciel
  • Alexander Zavolokin
  • Robert Lauth
  • Richard D. Brodeur
  • Kenneth O. Coyle


A long-term fisheries monitoring program operating in the southeastern Bering Sea detected a biomass increase of large jellyfish in the 1990s. However, medusa biomass declined to lower levels after 2000, but then increased once again in 2009. Similar population fluctuations are revealed in other monitoring efforts that extend to the northeast Bering Sea and to the west in Russian waters. Decadal oscillations in climate, rather than overfishing or other anthropogenic factors, are thought to be responsible for these trends. This case study of Bering Sea jellyfish blooms demonstrates that apparent increases in jellyfish populations may not necessarily be sustained and that increases may occur in response to climate variability. Herein we review what is known about the abundance and distribution of the dominant species of jellyfish in the Bering Sea and their potential interactions with other parts of the ecosystem, particularly those of interest to humans.


Jellyfish blooms Bering sea Fisheries surveys Scyphozoans Hydromedusae Population dynamics Distribution patterns Diel vertical migration Climate variability Jellyfish predators Commensalism 



We are grateful to the survey participants and support teams from the TINRO-Center and the AFSC and the captains and crew from the various research vessels, for diligently collecting the jellyfish biomass data during their trawl surveys. We thank George L. Hunt, Jr. for providing information from PROBES surveys. MBD was supported in part by the following funding sources: National Science Foundation Collaboration in Mathematical Geosciences Grant 0934727 and Grant #00025535 from the Lenfest Ocean Program of the Pew Charitable Trusts. AZ was supported in part by Grant #MK3361.2013.4 from the President of Russia.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mary Beth Decker
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kristin Cieciel
    • 2
  • Alexander Zavolokin
    • 3
  • Robert Lauth
    • 4
  • Richard D. Brodeur
    • 5
  • Kenneth O. Coyle
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyYale UniversityNew HavenUSA
  2. 2.NOAA Fisheries, Auke Bay LaboratoriesAlaska Fisheries Science CenterJuneauUSA
  3. 3.Laboratory of Applied BiocenologyPacific Research Fisheries Center (TINRO-Center)VladivostokRussia
  4. 4.NOAA FisheriesAlaska Fisheries Science CenterSeattleUSA
  5. 5.NOAA FisheriesNorthwest Fisheries Science CenterNewportUSA
  6. 6.Institute of Marine ScienceUniversity of AlaskaFairbanksUSA

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