Highlights: Comb Jelly Becomes Cannibal During Food Shortage

  • Mnemiopsis leidyi is a species of comb jelly and normally found in the waters of western Atlantic coast. They are considered invasive species in Europe and in western Asia. They feed on zooplankton which includes crustaceans, and juvenile fishes.
  • Scientists still do not know how this species was able to thrive during food shortage specifically in the northern waters of Eurasia.
  • Cannibalism has not been considered as a strategy to find nutritional source in studies of gelatinous zooplankton for both in native and exotic habitats.
  • Research shows that fully grown comb jellies in the western Baltic Sea cannibalize their own juveniles when their prey field is empty.
  • Scientists think that this species create massive blooms during late summer and efficiently deplete their prey field outcompeting other competitors. By creating a massive blooms, the comb jellies are able to build food reserves when food scarcity occurs.
  • The finding suggest that comb jellies are opportunistic and cannibalize when they cannot find food. This conservation strategy gives them advantage and more resilient during environmental stresses.
  • Part of the experiment shows that when food availability was increased, the number of larvae relative to the adults did not significantly change, and a photograph was taken showing two juvenile comb jellies inside the auricles of an adult comb jelly.
  • The research was led by Jamileh Javidpour of the Department of Biology at the University of Southern Denmark.



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