Jellyfish (cnidarians and ctenophores) affect the marine food web through high feeding rates and feeding efficiency, but in contrast to their great importance in the ecosystem, our knowledge of their dietary requirements is limited. Here we present the results of respiratory and feeding trials of the rhizostome Rhopilema nomadica, the dominant scyphozoan in the waters of the Eastern Mediterranean, which often establishes massive swarms, mainly in the summer months. Through multiple measurements of oxygen demand in R. nomadica at bell diameters of 3–49 mm, we were able to assess its minimum energetic requirements. These, and the results of the feeding trials on individuals of the same bell diameter range, show that R. nomadica is a very efficient predator. When presented with prey concentrations of 100 prey items per liter, a single hourly feeding session provided between 1.15 and 3 times the estimated daily basal carbon requirement. Our findings suggest that R. nomadica is well adapted to its environment, the hyperoligotrophic waters of the eastern Mediterranean, able to efficiently exploit patches of plankton, possibly at rates even higher than what we observed under laboratory conditions.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 774499. The authors gratefully acknowledge support from the Maurice and Lady Hatter Fund of the Leon Recanati Institute for Maritime Studies (RIMS) at the University of Haifa.
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
- Eastern Mediterranean
- Feeding specialization
- Minimum energetic demand
- Predation potential
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecological Modeling
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Nature and Landscape Conservation