20 June 2024
Arctic jellyfish predators: Tiny crustaceans discovered

All images are AI generated

Spread the love

In the dark and cold of the months-long polar night, tiny crustaceans have been discovered preying on live jellyfish, a behavior that was previously unknown. This discovery suggests that some marine organisms in the polar regions have adapted to the harsh winter conditions by going into a metabolic resting state and surviving on reserves accumulated during the short growth season.

Arctic Jellyfish Predators: Unveiling the Hidden Food Chain



Related Video

Published on: October 4, 2018 Description: How much do you really know about jellyfish? Given their diverse evolutionary history, jellies exhibit a fantastic range of shapes, ...
Jellyfish 101 | Nat Geo Wild
Play

In the vast and frigid Arctic, where darkness reigns for months during the polar night, the struggle for survival intensifies. Marine organisms face a scarcity of food resources, prompting some to enter a metabolic resting state, relying on reserves accumulated during the short summer. However, a group of tiny crustaceans, known as amphipods, has evolved a unique strategy to overcome this challenge: they become omnivores, consuming a wide range of food sources, including jellyfish.

Jellyfish: A Surprising Source of Nourishment for Arctic Predators

Traditionally, jellyfish have been considered a poor source of nutrients. However, recent research has revealed that they play a crucial role in the Arctic food web, serving as a vital food source for amphipods during the polar night. Scientists have discovered that amphipods feast on both dead and living jellyfish, utilizing them as a significant part of their diet.

Exploring the Arctic Food Web: The Role of Jellyfish Predators

To understand the role of jellyfish in the Arctic food chain, researchers ventured into the waters of Kongsfjorden, Svalbard, during the polar night. They collected samples of amphipods and analyzed their gut contents using DNA metabarcoding, a technique that identifies the remains of prey within the amphipods’ digestive systems. The results revealed that jellyfish DNA predominated in the guts of two Gammarus species, indicating their reliance on jellyfish as a primary food source. Additionally, jellyfish DNA was detected in the guts of two other amphipod species, Anonyx sarsi and Orchomenella minuta, suggesting that they also opportunistically consume jellyfish.

Jellyfish: A Key Player in the Changing Arctic Ecosystem

The Arctic is experiencing rapid warming, leading to an influx of jellyfish species from the Atlantic Ocean. This phenomenon, known as ‘Atlantification,’ is expected to further elevate the importance of jellyfish in the Arctic food web. As jellyfish populations increase, they will likely become an even more significant resource for Arctic marine organisms, including amphipods.

Adapting to Survive: Arctic Jellyfish Predators

The ability of amphipods to shift to an omnivorous diet during the polar night highlights their remarkable adaptability. By consuming jellyfish and other food sources, they are able to survive the harsh conditions and maintain their populations. This adaptability is crucial for the resilience of the Arctic ecosystem, ensuring that it can withstand the ongoing changes brought about by climate change.

Wrapping Up: The Significance of Jellyfish Predators in the Arctic Food Chain

The discovery of jellyfish as a significant food source for Arctic amphipods sheds new light on the intricate relationships within the Arctic food web. It challenges traditional notions about the nutritional value of jellyfish and emphasizes their importance in supporting marine life in the extreme conditions of the polar night. As the Arctic continues to change, understanding the role of jellyfish and other organisms in the food chain will be essential for predicting and mitigating the impacts of climate change on this fragile and interconnected ecosystem.

FAQ’s

1. What is the unique strategy adopted by amphipods to survive the scarcity of food resources during the polar night?

During the polar night, when food resources are scarce, amphipods exhibit omnivorous behavior, consuming a wide range of food sources, including jellyfish.

2. How do jellyfish contribute to the Arctic food web during the polar night?

Jellyfish, traditionally considered a poor source of nutrients, serve as a vital food source for amphipods during the polar night, providing them with essential nourishment.

3. What research findings support the role of jellyfish in the Arctic food chain?

Researchers have analyzed the gut contents of amphipods using DNA metabarcoding, revealing the presence of jellyfish DNA, indicating their reliance on jellyfish as a primary food source.

4. How might climate change impact the role of jellyfish in the Arctic food web?

As the Arctic experiences rapid warming, the influx of jellyfish species from the Atlantic Ocean is expected to further elevate the importance of jellyfish in the Arctic food web, potentially becoming an even more significant resource for marine organisms.

5. What is the significance of amphipods’ adaptability to consume jellyfish?

The ability of amphipods to shift to an omnivorous diet during the polar night demonstrates their remarkable adaptability, allowing them to survive the harsh conditions and maintain their populations, which is crucial for the resilience of the Arctic ecosystem.

Links to additional Resources:

1. awi.de 2. sciencedirect.com 3. nature.com

Related Wikipedia Articles

Topics: Arctic ecosystem, Jellyfish predators, Amphipods

Greenland shark
The Greenland shark (Somniosus microcephalus), also known as the gurry shark or grey shark, is a large shark of the family Somniosidae ("sleeper sharks"), closely related to the Pacific and southern sleeper sharks. The Greenland shark is a potentially important yet poorly studied cold-water species inhabiting the North Atlantic and...
Read more: Greenland shark

Jellyfish
Jellyfish, also known as sea jellies, are the medusa-phase of certain gelatinous members of the subphylum Medusozoa, which is a major part of the phylum Cnidaria. Jellyfish are mainly free-swimming marine animals with umbrella-shaped bells and trailing tentacles, although a few are anchored to the seabed by stalks rather than...
Read more: Jellyfish

Amphipoda
Amphipoda () is an order of malacostracan crustaceans with no carapace and generally with laterally compressed bodies. Amphipods () range in size from 1 to 340 millimetres (0.039 to 13 in) and are mostly detritivores or scavengers. There are more than 9,900 amphipod species so far described. They are mostly...
Read more: Amphipoda

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *