Linking human well-being and jellyfish: Ecosystem services, impacts, and societal responses

William M. Graham, Stefan Gelcich, Kelly L. Robinson, Carlos M. Duarte, Lucas Brotz, Jennifer E. Purcell, Laurence P. Madin, Hermes Mianzan, Kelly R. Sutherland, Shin Ichi Uye, Kylie A. Pitt, Cathy H. Lucas, Molly Bøgeberg, Richard D. Brodeur, Robert H. Condon

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

109 Scopus citations


Jellyfish are usually perceived as harmful to humans and are seen as "pests". This negative perception has hindered knowledge regarding their value in terms of ecosystem services. As humans increasingly modify and interact with coastal ecosystems, it is important to evaluate the benefits and costs of jellyfish, given that jellyfish bloom size, frequency, duration, and extent are apparently increasing in some regions of the world. Here we explore those benefits and costs as categorized by regulating, supporting, cultural, and provisioning ecosystem services. A geographical perspective of human vulnerability to jellyfish over four categories of human well-being (health care, food, energy, and freshwater production) is also discussed in the context of thresholds and trade-offs to enable social adaptation. Whereas beneficial services provided by jellyfish likely scale linearly with biomass (perhaps peaking at a saturation point), non-linear thresholds exist for negative impacts to ecosystem services. We suggest that costly adaptive strategies will outpace the beneficial services if jellyfish populations continue to increase in the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)515-523
Number of pages9
JournalFrontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Ecological Society of America.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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