Trophic ecology of two non-native hydrozoan medusae in the upper San Francisco Estuary

TitleTrophic ecology of two non-native hydrozoan medusae in the upper San Francisco Estuary
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsWintzer, A. P., Meek M. H., & Moyle P. B.
JournalMarine and Freshwater Research
Date Published08/2011
Keywordsdiel, diet, Dorosoma petenense, intra-bloom, Maeotias marginata, Moerisia, Morone saxatilis
AbstractBlooms of some gelatinous zooplankton are increasing worldwide, often disrupting foodwebs. Invasions of non-native jellyfish are a growing problem in many estuaries, including the San Francisco Estuary, where at least two species of Ponto-Caspian hydrozoans, Maeotias marginata Modeer, 1791 and Moerisia sp., are abundant. The present study investigated their trophic ecology, testing the following hypotheses: (1) diets over the bloom and at the diel scale are comprised of a variety of prey items; (2) hydrozoans are generalist feeders; (3) hydrozoans feed on the larvae of declining fish species; and (4) the potential for prey competition exists between the hydrozoans and two declining planktivorous fishes, striped bass (Morone saxatilis) and threadfin shad (Dorosoma petenense). Both hydrozoans ate a variety of crustaceans, most notably calanoid copepods, which were found in greater proportion in the guts than in the environment. The only fish larvae consumed were gobies. Density of Moerisia sp., was negatively correlated with gut fullness for both fishes, and diet overlap was high between shad and hydrozoans, but low for bass. Because of strong spatial and temporal overlap between hydrozoans and shad, competition for zooplankton may be occurring. These hydrozoans have invaded other systems, and should be monitored to assess potential ecological interactions in these locations.