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Abundance, horizontal and vertical distribution of the invasive ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi in the central Baltic Sea, November 2007

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The distribution and abundance of the invasive ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi in the Bornholm Basin, an important spawning ground of several fish stocks, and in adjacent areas in the central Baltic Sea was studied in November 2007. The study showed that M. leidyi were relatively small (body length 18.6 ± 7.6 mm) and they were patchily distributed over a large part of the investigated area. Specimens were found on 68 and 59% of stations sampled with a Bongo net (n=39) and an Isaac-Kidd midwater trawl (n=51), respectively. Vertically, the highest densities of M. leidyi occurred at 40 to 60 m around the halocline. Horizontally, the highest abundances were found north and west of Bornholm, but relatively high densities were also observed in the Slupsk Furrow. The mean abundance was 1.58 ± 2.12 ind. m-2, the peak abundance was 8.92 ind. m-2, and the average and peak population density were 0.03 ± 0.05 and 0.28 ind. m-3, respectively. The abundances are low compared to densities recently observed in other areas of the Baltic region (e. g. Limfjorden, Åland Sea) and the estimated predation impact on zooplankton by M. leidyi was negligible in November 2007. However, because of the ctenophore’s wide distribution in the central Baltic Sea, its ability for rapid population growth, and its potential influence on fish stocks by competing for food and by preying on fish eggs and newly hatched larvae, close monitoring of the future development of M. leidyi in the Baltic Sea is strongly recommended.

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