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Published October 5, 2010 | Supplemental Material + Published
Journal Article Open

Stealth predation and the predatory success of the invasive ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi


In contrast to higher metazoans such as copepods and fish, ctenophores are a basal metazoan lineage possessing a relatively narrow set of sensory-motor capabilities. Yet lobate ctenophores can capture prey at rates comparable to sophisticated predatory copepods and fish, and they are capable of altering the composition of coastal planktonic communities. Here, we demonstrate that the predatory success of the lobate ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi lies in its use of cilia to generate a feeding current that continuously entrains large volumes of fluid, yet is virtually undetectable to its prey. This form of stealth predation enables M. leidyi to feed as a generalist predator capturing prey, including microplankton (approximately 50 μm), copepods (approximately 1 mm), and fish larvae (>3 mm). The efficacy and versatility of this stealth feeding mechanism has enabled M. leidyi to be notoriously destructive as a predator and successful as an invasive species.

Additional Information

© 2010 National Academy of Sciences. Edited by David M. Karl, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI, and approved August 27, 2010 (received for review March 12, 2010). This is a contribution to the Baltic Zooplankton Cascades - BAZOOCA, funded by the Baltic Organizations Network for Funding Science EEIG. This work was supported by The Swedish Research Council Formas, Grants 2007-1105 (to L.J.H. and J.T.), 2006-1054 (to J.T.), and 2008-1586 (to J.T.); National Science Foundation Grants OCE-0350834 (to J.H.C.), OCE- 0623508 (to J.H.C.),OCE-0351398 (to S.P.C.), and OCE-0623534 (to S.P.C.); Office of Naval Research (ONR N000140810654); and by King Carl XVI Gustaf's 50th Birthday Fund for Science, Technology and the Environment (to J.T.) and the foundation of Birgit and Birger Wåhlströms memory (J.T.). Author contributions: S.P.C. and J.H.C. designed research; S.P.C., J.H.C., L.J.H., and J.T. performed research; J.O.D. contributed new reagents/analytic tools; S.P.C. analyzed data; and S.P.C. wrote the paper. The authors declare no conflict of interest. This article is a PNAS Direct Submission.

Attached Files

Published - Colin2010p11620P_Natl_Acad_Sci_Usa.pdf

Supplemental Material - pnas.201003170SI.pdf


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