Chemically regulated feeding by a midwater medusa

Tamburri, Mario N., Magdalena N. Halt, Bruce H. Robison

Limnol. Oceanogr., 45(7), 2000, 1661-1666 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2000.45.7.1661

ABSTRACT: Planktonic cnidarians are principal predators in the vast habitats between the ocean’s surface and the deep-sea floor. Almost nothing is known, however, about the chemical ecology of these fragile midwater animals because of difficulties associated with collecting healthy specimens and con-ducting experiments in the field. With the use of a remotely operated vehicle, we found that the hydromedusa Mitrocoma cellularia is not a passive ‘‘drift-net’’ predator. This relatively simple gelatinous organism reacted to both the taste and smell of prey in the laboratory and in situ. Our results comprise the first definitive demonstration that a species of pelagic cnidarian responds behaviorally to chemical signals, and they lend new insight into the role of chemoreception in structuring mid-water communities.

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