Meeting Abstract

S3-1.5  Jan. 4  Comparative feeding ecology of the phylum Ctenophora HADDOCK, Steven H; MBARI

Comb jellies (Phylum Ctenophora) are gelatinous macroplankton which propel themselves using rows of ciliary "paddles". They are predators on other plankton, often using cilia and sticky cells (rather than stinging cells) in a variety of ways to capture their prey. Most studies of their feeding and ecology have focused on a few readily available species, particularly the lobate Mnemiopsis. While this work has given interesting insights into many particulars of ctenophore feeding, extrapolation from this "model" system does not seem to be broadly applicable to the rest of the phylum. The true diversity, both in the sense of species and behavioral adaptations, shows that ctenophores have adapted to essentially all marine habitats, and to a range of prey from protozoa up to large jellies, including some associations with very specific prey. A comparison of their feeding modes reveals a variety that perhaps rivals the range found in better-known terrestrial examples such as spiders.