Questioning the rise of gelatinous Zooplankton in the world's oceans

Robert H. Condon*, William M. Graham, Carlos M. Duarte, Kylie A. Pitt, Cathy H. Lucas, Steven H.D. Haddock, Kelly R. Sutherland, Kelly L. Robinson, Michael N. Dawson, Mary Beth Decker, Claudia E. Mills, Jennifer E. Purcell, Alenka Malej, Hermes Mianzan, Shin Ichi Uye, Stefan Gelcich, Laurence P. Madin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

236 Scopus citations


During the past several decades, high numbers of gelatinous Zooplankton species have been reported in many estuarine and coastal ecosystems. Coupled with media-driven public perception, a paradigm has evolved in which the global ocean ecosystems are thought to he heading toward being dominated by "nuisance" jellyfish. We question this current paradigm by presenting a broad overview of gelatinous Zooplankton in a historical context to develop the hypothesis that population changes reflect the human-mediated alteration of global ocean ecosystems. To this end, we synthesize information related to the evolutionary context of contemporary gelatinous Zooplankton blooms, the human frame of reference for changes in gelatinous Zooplankton populations, and whether sufficient data are available to have established the paradigm. We conclude that the current paradigm in which it is believed that there has been a global increase in gelatinous Zooplankton is unsubstantiated, and we develop a strategy for addressing the critical questions about long-term, human-related changes in the sea as they relate to gelatinous Zooplankton blooms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)160-169
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors are members of the Jellyfish Working Group (JWG), convened by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS). Our common interest is to examine the supposition that the number of jellyfish blooms has increased globally. The JWG is an open program, allowing anyone wishing to participate the opportunity to do so ( The JWG aims to serve the wider scientific community through producing the cooperative Jellyfish Database Initiative; establishing links; and mediating cooperation among science, outreach, and policy; providing training and infrastructure for present and future research endeavors; and making recommendations for future activities. We thank Lucas Brotz and three anonymous reviewers for their contributions to the manuscript. Funding for NCEAS and the JWG comes from National Science Foundation Grant no. DEB-94-21535, from the University of California at Santa Barbara, and from the State of California. MND was supported in part by National Science Foundation Grant no. DEB-07-17071.


  • bloom
  • global synthesis
  • jellyfish
  • media
  • salp

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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