Tackling the jelly web: Trophic ecology of gelatinous zooplankton in oceanic food webs of the eastern tropical Atlantic assessed by stable isotope analysis

Chi, Xupeng, Dierking, Jan, Hoving, Henk-Jan T., Lüskow, Florian, Denda, Anneke, Christiansen, Bernd, Sommer, Ulrich, Hansen, Thomas and Javidpour, Jamileh (2020) Tackling the jelly web: Trophic ecology of gelatinous zooplankton in oceanic food webs of the eastern tropical Atlantic assessed by stable isotope analysis Limnology and Oceanography . DOI 10.1002/lno.11605.

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Gelatinous zooplankton can be present in high biomass and taxonomic diversity in planktonic oceanic food webs, yet the trophic structuring and importance of this “jelly web” remain incompletely understood. To address this knowledge gap, we provide a holistic trophic characterization of a jelly web in the eastern tropical Atlantic, based on δ13C and δ15N stable isotope analysis of a unique gelatinous zooplankton sample set. The jelly web covered most of the isotopic niche space of the entire planktonic oceanic food web, spanning > 3 trophic levels, ranging from herbivores (e.g., pyrosomes) to higher predators (e.g., ctenophores), highlighting the diverse functional roles and broad possible food web relevance of gelatinous zooplankton. Among gelatinous zooplankton taxa, comparisons of isotopic niches pointed to the presence of differentiation and resource partitioning, but also highlighted the potential for competition, e.g., between hydromedusae and siphonophores. Significant differences in spatial (seamount vs. open ocean) and depth‐resolved patterns (0–400 m vs. 400–1000 m) pointed to additional complexity, and raise questions about the extent of connectivity between locations and differential patterns in vertical coupling between gelatinous zooplankton groups. Added complexity also resulted from inconsistent patterns in trophic ontogenetic shifts among groups. We conclude that the broad trophic niche covered by the jelly web, patterns in niche differentiation within this web, and substantial complexity at the spatial, depth, and taxon level call for a more careful consideration of gelatinous zooplankton in oceanic food web models. In light of climate change and fishing pressure, the data presented here also provide a valuable baseline against which to measure future trophic observations of gelatinous zooplankton communities in the eastern tropical Atlantic.

Document Type: Article
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB3 Marine Ecology > FB3-EV Marine Evolutionary Ecology
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB3 Marine Ecology > FB3-OEB Ökosystembiologie des Ozeans
OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB3 Marine Ecology > FB3-EOE-B Experimental Ecology - Benthic Ecology
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1002/lno.11605
ISSN: 0024-3590
Projects: GoJelly, Future Ocean
Date Deposited: 24 Sep 2020 11:29
Last Modified: 24 Sep 2020 11:29
URI: http://eprints.uni-kiel.de/id/eprint/50571

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