Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Diversity and physiological tolerance of native and invasive jellyfish/ctenophores along the extreme salinity gradient of the Baltic Sea.

Abstract

Global change has led to manifold changes of marine ecosystems and biodiversity world-wide. While it has been shown that certain jellyfish and comb jelly species have increased regionally, it remains to be investigated if this is a general trend or localized phenomenon. Especially for the economically important Baltic Sea, which is characterized by an extreme physical environmental gradient, this question has not been addressed to date. Here we present a detailed account of the gelatinous macro-zooplankton community including their physiological tolerance towards abiotic conditions and resulting distribution ranges in the Baltic. We show that the arrival and establishment of non-indigenous species has led to a rising importance of jellyfish and comb jellies in the Baltic. This accounts for the comb jelly Mnemiopsis leidyi, which was first observed in Northern Europe in 2005, as well as for the hydromedusae Blackfordia virginica, first sighted in 2014. Both species have been shown to attain high population densities with pronounced grazing impact in other invasive regions. Given the current and anticipated changes of the physical environment of the Baltic Sea, especially ongoing warming, amplification of their impact can be expected.