Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research

Invasion of the ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi

Ctenophores are considered to be important predators and hence components of planktonic ecosystems. There are indications that gelatinous zooplankton blooms are increasing in magnitude and frequency as a consequence of new invasions and a range of anthropogenic factors such as habitat modification, eutrophication, climate change and overfishing.

Ctenophores, important predators in coastal waters and Wadden Sea.

Fifty years of jellyfish catches in a fish fyke on Texel show that jellyfish are appearing earlier in the year following warmer winters. The number of jellyfish caught had decreased. Polyps (bottom-living stages of jellyfish) were also studied and searched for on the bottom, on wrecks and in harbours and ports. Only polyps of the moon jellyfish were found. Knowledge of the distribution of polyps can lead to better forecasting of jellyfish problems in the future.

The American comb jellyfish is now the most common gelatinous species in Dutch waters. Experiments showed that the species can survive in very brackish waters. Computer models of distribution, survival, reproduction and growth of the species predict that Dutch waters act as a source of comb jellies for other European waters. When coastal waters get warmer, spawning of the invasive species could increase and shift to earlier months. This can have consequences for food availability of other gelatinous species and fish such as anchovy, sprat and herring.

In 2010 Lodewijk van Walraven, department of Coastal Systems started a study on gelatinous zooplankton in Dutch coastal waters, in a collaboration between the NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research and Deltares. On November 18, 2016 he  defended his thesis at the University of Groningen.

A pdf of the thesis can be downloaded here

Project information
Linked department:
15 Apr 2009 - 31 Dec 2015

Meet the team

Veer van der, Henk
Guest researcher