Predation on fish eggs and larvae by pelagic cnidarians and ctenophores
Predation is recognized as a major source of mortality in fish eggs and larvae. In this review, I consider pelagic cnidarians and ctenophores as an assemblage of predators that is distinct from other types of planktonic predators in that they do not actively attack prey organisms. Three basic approaches have been used to study their predation on larval fishes—laboratory observations, analysis of prey found in the gastric cavities of the predators, and modelling of predator–prey interactions. Laboratory experiments have identified many gelatinous zooplankters that can consume fish larvae. Fish larvae comprise 90–100% of the diets of cystonect siphonophores, but only small percentages of the natural diets of other gelatinous predators. High in situ predation rates have been found in the few studies, made in near-shore environments, that combined gut content analysis, digestion times, and abundances of larvae and their predators. I discuss the characteristics of pelagic cnidarians and ctenophores that make them of great potential importance as predators and food competitors of early stages of fish, and the characteristics of larval fishes that affect their vulnerability to these predators. The amount of predation is determined by the sizes and the spatial and temporal overlap of predator and fish larva populations. Future studies must quantify feeding rates on fish eggs and larvae over several consecutive years, and consider the combined effects of all potential predators.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 01 September 1985
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