Marine Research Findings of the VECTORS Project

This website provides access to the research results of the VECTORS project, which can be used to support marine management decisions, policies and governance as well as future research and investment. VECTORS was a large scale project that brought together more than 200 expert researchers from 16 different countries. It examined the significant changes taking place in European seas, their causes, and the impacts they will have on society.

Threshold temperatures for growth metabolism observed in jellyfish polyps

Blooms of scyphozoan jellyfish in open waters are due, to a large extent, by the timing and magnitude of production of young jellyfish (ephyrae) by polyps living in bottom habitats. Metabolic rates of polyps were measured between 7 and 20°C in three different species of jellyfish in the Aurelia genus and Cyanea capillata. The work attempted to better understand how temperature and low oxygen concentration (hypoxia) constrain suitable habitats of this benthic life stage. With these data, one can not only better map the distribution of polyps but also understand how their productivity changes seasonally.


Metabolic rates of jellyfish polyps increased dramatically after a specific threshold temperature (normally between 10 and 12°C) which could be related to the phenology of growth and strobilation (the production of ephyrae). Oxygen concentrations below 25% saturation depress metabolic rates of Aurelia aurita polyps.

The work is important because ecophysiological studies such as this one can help pinpoint the mechanisms behind blooms of outbreak forming species.


The metabolic rates of benthic polyps appear similar to those of pelagic life stages (ephyrae) and medusae after taking into account differences in body size. This is surprising given the obvious differences in habitat and activity levels of these life stages.

Figure 2 illustrates the metabolic (respiration) rates of the three life stages of scyphozoan jellyfish. It is a comparison of the respiration rates reported in the literature for the moon jellyfish (Aurelia aurita) and the results of this study on polyps. The rates are similar after taking into account differences in body size (shown here in a logarithm scale).


Lead Author:

Myron Peck
University of Hamburg (UHAM)
Date of research: May 2014

Related articles:

Extreme ecological events and jellyfish outbreaks

Growth model for jellyfish Pelagia noctiluca 

Variability in gelatinous zooplankton 

Cod, recruitment, temperature and zooplankton

Impact of environmental changes on North Sea herring

Impact of jellyfish on fisheries and tourism 

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 266445
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