What Are They Doing?
Eastern Bering Sea (EBS) jellyfish populations have fluctuated dramatically during the past three decades. When jellyfish populations are high, they likely have major impacts on the Bering Sea food web. This project will estimate the age structure and age-specific abundances of the predominant jellyfish in the Bering Sea, Chrysaora melanaster, in order to understand how their population size changes with time.
The ultimate goal is to estimate the reproductive capacity and success of this jellyfish in relation to climate variability and to investigate the potential for jellyfish population increases to become a recurring pattern in the Bering Sea under future climate scenarios. This will in turn enable forecasting of jellyfish abundance and their predatory impacts in the Bering Sea ecosystem.
Where Are They?
The team will conduct their work aboard the Sikuliaq research vessel in the eastern Bering Sea. Their testing site is along the northern coast of Unimak Island, Eastern Aleutians in an area known as the “slime bank”.
Mary Beth Decker is a Biological Oceanographer and Ecologist specializing in the influence of ocean conditions on the distribution, abundance, and behavior of marine predators. Mary Beth works on plankton-consuming predators of the Bering Sea ecosystem, in particular jellyfish and forage fish. She is particularly interested in how climate variability influences jellyfish populations, and how jellyfish blooms in turn affect food webs via predation and competition. She teaches three courses at Yale: Biological Oceanography, Coastal Ecosystems in a Changing World, and Caribbean Coastal Development.
Hongsheng Bi is a Biological Oceanographer specializing in the fine-scale spatial distributions of different marine organisms and their trophic interactions. Hongsheng deploys advanced optical and high-resolution sonar imaging systems to quantify the spatial distributions and overlap of plankton, forage fish and jellyfish. He is particularly interested in how jellyfish affect the spatial and temporal dynamics forage species. Hongsheng’s group operates a towed zooplankton imaging system (PlanktonScope), two adaptive resolution imaging sonar (ARIS) systems and a time-resolved Tomographic Particle Image Velocimetry at the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.