Gelatinous Zooplankton: Validity of the Concept and Roles of Component Organisms as Predators, Prey and Sources of Marine Aggregates

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology

First Advisor

Charles G. Messing


The group of organisms called gelatinous zooplankton has frequently been overlooked in studies of the marine zooplankton. Most sampling techniques destroy gelatinous zooplankton because they are so delicate. Accurate data collected by appropriate sampling techniques have in many cases been viewed as unimportant because gelatinous zooplankton have long been considered trophic dead-ends. During the last several decades, plankton research has emphasized the crustacean component of the zooplankton. Recently, however, gelatinous zooplankton have come under closer scrutiny because scientists are recognizing their abundances and the roles they play in marine ecosystems . However, a description of what the gelatinous zooplankton are and the trophic significance of gelatinous zooplankton have not been well documented.

The objectives of this paper are: 1) to determine the general characteristics of gelatinous zooplanktonic organisms, 2) to describe the roles that gelatinous zooplankton play as predators and prey, 3) to show, by use of data on chemical composition, that gelatinous zooplankton are not trophic dead-ends, and 4) to discuss indirect effects of feeding by gelatinous zooplankton, including the production and significance of marine aggregates .

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