Author Posting. © Ecological Society of America, 2014. This article is posted here by permission of Ecological Society of America for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 12 (2014): 515-523, doi:10.1890/130298.
Jellyfish are usually perceived as harmful to humans and are seen as “pests”. This negative perception has hindered knowledge regarding their value in terms of ecosystem services. As humans increasingly modify and interact with coastal ecosystems, it is important to evaluate the benefits and costs of jellyfish, given that jellyfish bloom size, frequency, duration, and extent are apparently increasing in some regions of the world. Here we explore those benefits and costs as categorized by regulating, supporting, cultural, and provisioning ecosystem services. A geographical perspective of human vulnerability to jellyfish over four categories of human well-being (health care, food, energy, and freshwater production) is also discussed in the context of thresholds and trade-offs to enable social adaptation. Whereas beneficial services provided by jellyfish likely scale linearly with biomass (perhaps peaking at a saturation point), non-linear thresholds exist for negative impacts to ecosystem services. We suggest that costly adaptive strategies will outpace the beneficial services if jellyfish populations continue to increase in the future.
Funding for the National Center for Ecological Analysis
and Synthesis comes from National Science Foundation
Grant DEB-94-21535, the University of California at
Santa Barbara, and the State of California.
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