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Finenko G. A., Datsyk N. A., Anninsky B. E., Zagorodnyaya Yu. A. Trophic relationships in the zooplankton – gelatinous zooplankton food chain in the shelf areas of the Crimean coast of the Black Sea. Marine Biological Journal, 2022, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 93-106. https://doi.org/10.21072/mbj.2022.07.1.08

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Abstract

The seasonal and spatial dynamics of the key trophic characteristics were studied (food spectrum, feeding rate, and predatory impact on mesozooplankton) for populations of the jellyfish Aurelia aurita (Linnaeus, 1758) and ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi A. Agassiz, 1865. The investigation was carried out during four cruises of the RV “Professor Vodyanitsky” in the shelf areas of Crimean Peninsula in January to October 2016. The area was divided into inner (depth of < 50 m) and outer (51–150 m) shelves. To study the food spectrum and feeding rate of gelatinous predators, the composition of food items in the gastric cavity was analyzed under a binocular microscope. Daily ration (R, mg C·ind.−1·day−1) was calculated by the formula: R = Bz × DT−1 × 24, where Bz is zooplankton biomass in the predator gastric cavity (mg), and DT is zooplankton digestion time (h). Predatory impact of gelatinous zooplankton was estimated by the values of daily ration and mesozooplankton biomass. Zooplankton was sampled with a Juday plankton net with mouth diameter of 38 cm and mesh size of 140 µm. Vertical net hauls were performed: at the inner shelf stations, from the sea surface down to the bottom; at the outer shelf stations, down to the boundary of the hydrogen sulfide zone (δt = 16.2 conventional units according to a Sea-Bird probe). In the samples fixed with 4 % formalin solution, zooplankton abundance, its taxonomic composition, and size–age structure were quantified by standard method. In the food spectrum of the jellyfish, seasonal differences were revealed: predominance of Bivalvia veligers in winter and spring and wide species composition of Crustacea and other groups of prey in summer. The feeding rates of the studied species were similar: specific daily rations in winter, spring, and autumn did not exceed tenth of a percent of the carbon content in the body. Both species fed at a maximum rate in summer on the outer shelf: the specific rations reached 12.9 and 5.1 % C of the body for the jellyfish and ctenophore, respectively. A. aurita and M. leidyi populations consumed 0.2 to 5 % of the fodder zooplankton biomass per day; it did not result in a drastic reduction in zooplankton abundance and provided favorable feeding conditions for small planktivorous pelagic fish.

Authors

G. A. Finenko

leading researcher, PhD

https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3303-0906

https://elibrary.ru/author_items.asp?id=499604

N. A. Datsyk

junior researcher

https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8113-8786

https://elibrary.ru/author_profile.asp?id=762916

B. E. Anninsky

leading researcher, PhD

https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9614-9392

https://elibrary.ru/author_profile.asp?id=260698

Yu. A. Zagorodnyaya

leading researcher, PhD

https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9502-4923

https://elibrary.ru/author_profile.asp?id=815221

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