The impact of the invasive ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi in the North Sea

Project Details


Main research question/goal
Can the invasive comb jelly Mnemiopsis leidyi cause ecological and economic problems in the North Sea? To assess the impact of this non-indigenous ctenophore on fisheries, tourism and energy companies in the Belgian part of the North Sea and the Western Scheldt, we investigate the distribution of M. leidyi and its role in the food web (e.g. as predator of zooplankton and fish larvae) in detail.

Research approach
We map the spatial and temporal distribution of Mnemiopsis leidyi in the Belgian part of the North Sea and the Western Scheldt. A standard operating protocol for the efficient capture, storage and identification of M. Leidyi is developed. We unravel the biology, physiology and dietary needs of M. leidyi, by means of culturing experiments, and stable isotopes and fatty acid analyses. Finally, based on surveys, we build scenarios to predict the potential ecological and socio-economic impact of this non-indigenous species.

The American comb jelly Mnemiopsis leidyi was first observed in Belgian waters in 2007. Presumably it got here through the discharge of ships ballast water. M. leidyi has caused significant economic and environmental damage in the Black Sea. The fear of a similar scenario makes research on this species in the Belgian part of the North Sea highly relevant. This (doctoral) research is part of a wider EU Interreg IVA project, where several institutes from Belgium, France, UK and the Netherlands work in close cooperation to investigate the potential negative impact of this invasive species in the 2-Seas region (Channel and Southern North Sea).

Funding provider(s)
ILVO - Instituut voor Landbouw-, Visserij- en voedingsonderzoek
Interreg IVA 2 Mers Seas Zeeën

External partner(s)
Institut Francais de Recherche pour l'eploition de la mer
Stichting Deltares
The Secretary of Stae for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
UGent - Fac. Wetenschappen
Université du Littoral Côte d’Opale - Laboratoire d’Océanologie et de Géosciences
Effective start/end date1/01/1131/12/14

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