Hyperiid amphipods (Order Amphipoda, Suborder Hyperiidea) are known to infest gelatinous zooplankton. However, the temporal backdrop to these associations is less clear, given that data are often gathered during discrete sampling events rather than over time. In general, hyperiids are considered to be pelagic: however, for individuals associated with metagenic jellyfishes in temperate shallow shelf seas, this may not always be the case, as the majority of their gelatinous hosts are present in the water column from spring to the onset of autumn. Here, we explored the temporal patterns of colonisation and overall duration of the association between Hyperia galba and 3 scyphozoan jellyfish species (Aurelia aurita, Cyanea capillata and C. lamarckii) in a temperate coastal system (Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland) during 2010 and 2012. Concomitantly, we used carbon and nitrogen stable isotope ratios to examine whether hyperiid infestation represented a permanent association with their host or was part of a more complex life history. We found that jellyfish were colonised by H. galba ca. 2 mo after they are first observed in the lough and that H. galba reached 100% prevalence in the different jellyfish species shortly before the medusae of each species disappeared from the water column. It is possible that some jellyfish overwintered in deeper water, prolonging the association between H. galba and their hosts. However, all the medusae sampled during the spring and early summer (whether they were newly emerged or had overwintered from the previous season) were not infected with hyperiids, suggesting that such behaviour was uncommon or that individuals had become dissociated from their host during the winter. Further evidence of temporary association came from stable isotope data, where δ13C and δ15N isotope ratios were indicative of feeding outside of their host prior to jellyfish colonisation. In combination, these findings suggest alternating habitat associations for H. galba, with the amphipods spending the majority of the year outside of the 3 scyphozoan species considered here.
Fleming, N. E. C., Harrod, C., Griffin, D. C., Newton, J., & Houghton, J. D. R. (2014). Scyphozoan jellyfish provide short-term reproductive habitat for hyperiid amphipods in a temperate near-shore environment. Marine Ecology: Progress Series, 510, 229-240. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10896