Identification of genetically and oceanographically distinct blooms of jellyfish

Patricia L. M. Lee, Michael N Dawson, Simon P. Neill, Peter E. Robins, Jonathan D. R. Houghton, Thomas K. Doyle, Graeme C. Hays

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


Reports of nuisance jellyfish blooms have increased worldwide during the last half-century, but the possible causes remain unclear.Apersistent difficulty lies in identifying whether blooms occur owing to local or regional processes. This issue can be resolved, in part, by establishing the geographical scales of connectivity among locations, which may be addressed using genetic analyses and oceanographic modelling. We used landscape genetics and Lagrangian modelling of oceanographic dispersal to explore patterns of connectivity in the scyphozoan jellyfish Rhizostoma octopus, which occurs en masse at locations in the Irish Sea and northeastern Atlantic. We found significant genetic structure distinguishing three populations, with both consistencies and inconsistencies with prevailing physical oceanographic patterns. Our analyses identify locations where blooms occur in apparently geographically isolated populations, locations where blooms may be the source or result of migrants, and a location where blooms do not occur consistently and jellyfish are mostly immigrant. Our interdisciplinary approach thus provides a means to ascertain the geographical origins of jellyfish in outbreaks, which may have wide utility as increased international efforts investigate jellyfish blooms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the Royal Society, Interface
Issue number80
Publication statusPublished - 06 Mar 2013

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