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Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2020-226
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2020-226
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  26 Jun 2020

26 Jun 2020

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A revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal BG.

The effects of decomposing invasive jellyfish on biogeochemical fluxes and microbial dynamics in an ultraoligotrophic sea

Tamar Guy-Haim, Maxim Rubin-Blum, Eyal Rahav, Natalia Belkin, Jacob Silverman, and Guy Sisma-Ventura Tamar Guy-Haim et al.
  • Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research, National Oceanography Institute, Haifa, 3108000, Israel

Abstract. Over the past several decades, jellyfish blooms have intensified spatially and temporally, affecting functions and services of ecosystems worldwide. At the demise of a bloom, an enormous amount of jellyfish biomass sinks to the seabed and decomposes. This process entails reciprocal microbial and biogeochemical changes, typically enriching the water column and seabed with large amounts of organic and inorganic nutrients. Jellyfish decomposition was hypothesized to be particularly important in nutrient-impoverished ecosystems, such as the Eastern Mediterranean Sea – one of the most oligotrophic marine regions in the world. Since the 1970s, this region is experiencing the proliferation of a notorious invasive scyphozoan jellyfish, Rhopilema nomadica. In this study, we estimated the short-term decomposition effects of R. nomadica on nutrient dynamics at the sediment-water interface. Our results show that the degradation of R. nomadica has led to increased oxygen demand and acidification of overlying water as well as high rates of dissolved organic nitrogen and phosphate production. These conditions favored heterotrophic microbial activity, bacterial biomass accumulation, and triggered a shift towards heterotrophic bio-degrading bacterial communities, whereas autotrophic pico-phytoplankton abundance was moderately affected or reduced. This shift may further decrease primary production in the water column of the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. Deoxygenation, acidification, nutrient enrichment and microbial community shifts at the sediment-water interface may have a detrimental impact on macrobenthic communities. Based on these findings we suggest that jelly-falls and their decay may facilitate an additional decline in ecosystem functions and services.

Tamar Guy-Haim et al.

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Tamar Guy-Haim et al.

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Experiment on biogeochemical changes following Rhopilema nomadica decomposition T. Guy-Haim, M. Rubin-Blum, E. Rahav, N. Belkin, J. Silverman, and G. Sisma-Ventura https://doi.pangaea.de/10.1594/PANGAEA.915464

Tamar Guy-Haim et al.

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Short summary
The availability of nutrients in oligotrophic marine ecosystems is limited. Following jellyfish blooms, large die-off events result in the release of high amounts of nutrients to the water column and the sediment. Our study assessed the decomposition effects of an infamous invasive jellyfish in the ultraoligotrophic Eastern Mediterranean Sea. We found that jellyfish decomposition favored heterotrophic bacteria and altered biogeochemical fluxes, further improvising this nutrient-poor ecosystem.
The availability of nutrients in oligotrophic marine ecosystems is limited. Following jellyfish...
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