Research Technical Report
Chemically Mediated Feeding By A Midwater Medusa
Tamburri, M.N., M.N. Halt, and Bruce H. Robison (2000)
Limnology and Oceanography 45: 1661-1666
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 collecting healthy specimens and conducting 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 pelagic cnidarian reacted to both the taste and smell of prey in the laboratory and in situ. These results are the first demonstration that a species of gelatinous zooplankton responds behaviorally to chemical signals, and they lend new insight into the role of chemoreception in structuring midwater communities.