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Invasion of the Ctenophore Species

All ctenophores are predators (Pechenik, 2009). Ctenophore densities population can
become quite high, particularly in coastal waters. As carnivores, ctenophores are most likely to
have substantial impact on the abundance and population dynamics of other zooplankton (Greene
et al., 1986). These ctenophores have significant ecological impact in their invaded aquatic
system. They have been widely popular in terms of research that involves the discussion of
specific ctenophores, its mechanisms and effects in the ecosystem. Based on the articles we read,
there are several research studies that were conducted to give a detailed look for the ctenophore
species, specifically Mnemiopsis leidyi.
Mnemiopsis leidyi is a lobate ctenophore that occupies coastal water with a wide
latitudinal range (Costello and Mianzan, 2003) that poses a threat to ecosystems worldwide, and
can even cause economic damage (Boersma, Hamer, and Malzahn, 2011). It invaded the Black
Sea, the Mediterranean and the Caspian Sea due to its highly versatile planktonic predator
capability (Costello and Mianzan, 2003; Boersma, Hamer, and Malzahn, 2011). M. leidyi was
first recorded in the North Sea, yet its ecological impact is still completely unexplored (Boersma,
Hamer, and Malzahn, 2011). However, it was found abundantly in high saline areas of Baltic Sea
(Jaspers et al., 2013). In the study formulated by Gorokhova and colleagues, they demonstrated
the essentiality of quantitative sampling that includes ctenophore larvae and eggs in
understanding the population composition, recruitment processes and hence, the population
dynamics of the invasive M. leidyi and Mertensia ovum, as they are the most prominent
ctenophores in the Baltic Sea . M. leidyi have dominated the population in the Baltic Sea but in
relation with salinity, station, and season (Jaspers et al., 2013). Studies are now in progress to
assess the effects of these recent invasions (Boersma, Hamer, and Malzahn, 2011).
In understanding the trophic impacts of the M. leidyi and its abundance and distribution at
the sea, several methods were done like: acoustic method, and conventional net sampling of the
water column guided by acoustic data. Acoustic method is used to record distribution patterns by
low-frequency acoustic system. The most informative combination of quantitative methods
involves direct net sampling guided by acoustic data. The choice of sampling depends upon a
variety of factor affecting study situations. However, vertical migration and the formation of near
bottom aggregation can affect abundance patterns, as well as our understanding of trophic
interaction involving ctenophores. Whatever the sampling approach selected, M. leidyi
distribution and abundance patterns should consider the potential for near bottom aggregation
and vertical migration (Costello and Mianzan, 2003).
Other ctenophore species were discovered in certain aquatic system. Mertensia ovum was
present year round throughout the brackish Baltic Sea but also occurred in high saline areas
during cold seasons. M. ovum was distributed in surface waters or throughout the water column
in spring and winter, but resided at depth during summer and autumn (Jaspers et al., 2013).
M. leidyi is located one trophic level above the indigenous ctenophore Bolinopsis
infundibulum, whereas its trophic position was more similar to another native ctenophore,
Pleurobrachia pileus. Although B. infundibulum and M. leidyi are similar in size in prey-
catching strategy, based on the stable isotope data, they did not compete for food; thus, B.
infundibulum and M. leidyi occupied completely different trophic niches. B. infundibulum could
well have originated from a different area where they had been feeding on lower organisms in
the food chain (algae, protozooplankton) and M. leidyi probably prefers metazoan prey like
planktons. The main diet of all three ctenophores, M. leidyi, B. infundibulum and P. pileus, was
the large zooplankton fraction. However, there is a substantial predation on sh eggs by the
indigenous P. pileus, especially in March/April, and based on the averages, sh eggs did not
occur in the diet of M. leidyi at all, as they probably were rejecting sh eggs for copepods. Based
on this, the study concluded that if any ctenophore species is a threat to the sh populations
around Helgoland in the North Sea, it is the endemic species P. pileus and not the invasive M.
leidyi. M.leidyi at present is unable to affect the ecosystem in the North Sea in a similar way as it
did in the Black Sea, and as a result, it might t into the current food web without the
catastrophic impacts observed in other invaded seas (Boersma, Hamer, and Malzahn, 2011).
Ecosystem alterations and consequences for biodiversity have been documented (Carlton
and Geller, 1993; Kideys, 2002) with disturbed aquatic systems being especially vulnerable to
invasions (Richardson et al., 2009; Crooks et al., 2011). The ecological impacts include regime
shifts and large-scale cascading effects throughout marine food webs, as documented for
successfully established invaders (Kideys, 2002; Sorte et al., 2010). Ctenophores are marine
invaders that harm the other species population in the system. Since these organisms are all
predators, their occurrence can caused shortage for food source of other species, particularly fish.
Hence, ctenophore species invasions threaten not only our ecosystem, but also our economy.
Costello, J.H. and Mianzan H.W.(2003).Sampling field distributions of Mnemiopsis leidyi
JJJ(Ctenophora, Lobata): planktonic or benthic method? Journal of Plankton Research,25(4),
JJJ 455-459.
Greene, C.H., Landry, M.R., and Monger, C.R.(1986).Foraging Behavior and Prey Selection by
JJJ the Ambush Entangling Predator Pleurobrachia bachei. Ecology, 67, 1493-1501.
Hamer, H. H., Malzahn, A. M., and Boersma, M.(2011).The invasive ctenophore Mnemiopsis
JJJ leidyi: a threat to fish recruitment in the North Sea? Journal of Plankton Research, 33, 137-
JJJ 144.
Jaspers, C., Haraldsson, M., Lombard, F., Bolte, S. and Kirboe, T. (2013).Seasonal dynamics of
JJ Jearly life stages of invasive and native ctenophores give clues to invasion and bloom
JJJJ potential in the Baltic Sea. Journal of Plankton Research, 0(0), I-I3.
Pechenik, J. (2009). Biology of the Invertebrates. 6th Ed. McGraw-Hill, USA