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Title: Gelatinous zooplankton in the North East Atlantic : distribution, seasonality and trophic ecology
Author: Fleming, Nicholas Edward Christopher
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis explores the spatial and trophic ecology of jellyfish in the North East Atlantic using a multidisciplinary approach incorporating shoreline surveys, hydrodynamic modelling and stable isotope analysis. Shoreline surveys revealed a marked temporal and spatial segregation between coastal and oceanic species that remained consistent between sampling years. The utility of the sampling method was considered with respect to the monitoring of jellyfish aggregations in the vicinity of aquaculture on-growing facilities. These stranding data constituted the basis for a follow on study of the broad-scale drivers that transport blooms of the oceanic jellyfish Pelagia noctiluca into Irish/UK coastal waters. A Lagrangian particle-tracking modelling approach was used to consider the fate of hypothetical offshore blooms in the North East Atlantic, it displayed a high predictive ability when compared with actual stranding events across 1800km of the coastline. The remaining chapters of the thesis considered the ecological role of scyphozoan jellyfish from an isotopic perspective (δ13C and δ15N). Consideration was given to the effect of preservation method on the interpretation of isotopic data and to the top-down control of planktonic communities by three commonly occurring scyphozoan jellyfish species (A. aurita, C. lamarckii and C. capillata) from first appearance in the spring, through to eventual disappearance from the water column in the autumn. Distinct intra- and inter-specific shifts in trophic position were evident over time, with only a marginal niche overlap with the sympatric fish community; supporting the notion of a largely self-contained 'jelly-web' (sensu Robison,2004). The final chapter examines the role of jellyfish as hosts for invertebrate fauna, by revisiting the association between scyphozoan species and the hyperiid amphipod Hyperia galba. Isotopic, prevalence, and body size data revealed that amphipods used the jellyfish primarily as a short-term reproductive habitat, with the vast majority of the year spent outside of their gelatinous host.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available