Gelatinous zooplankton, comprising cnidarians, ctenophores and tunicates, are known to be major drivers of ecosystem changes. Recently, increases in jelly biomass, referred to as “jellification”, have been observed in several marine ecosystems, causing the collapse of major fisheries. Abundance data on jellies are virtually non-existent for the Arctic, impeding our ability to detect changes of a similar magnitude. To overcome the drawbacks of traditional net sampling, we sample jellies using the most recent technologies in optics and environmental DNA analyses. Such interdisciplinary surveys allow us to link distributional patterns of jellies to sea-ice and oceanographic (sub-mesoscale) features. We apply species and community distribution models to a broader set of archived data as well as on newly obtained distributional data from optical transects. With these models, we aim to understand observed species patterns and to predict changes under future scenarios. The role of jellies in the Arctic food web, their importance for higher trophic levels and their link to the sea-ice trophic pathway will be elucidated with metabarcoding and biomarker studies. We plan to conduct physiological and transcriptomic studies assessing different populations’ thermal responses in order to predict range expansions along a latitudinal, poleward gradient. Using eDNA, we want to monitor “newcomers” and community changes in rapidly changing regions such as Fram Strait, the gateway to the Arctic, and the Atlantic-influenced Kongsfjorden (Svalbard). Eventually, these data on abundances, distribution and prey spectrum will be fed into food web models for evaluating the consequences of range shifts of Atlantic and Arctic jellyfish. A better understanding of jellies´ trophic role is crucial for the rapidly changing Arctic and surrounding shelf seas, responsible for 10% of the global fisheries.



Group Leader:


Dr. Charlotte Havermans

Group members:


Andrea Eschbach (Technical Assistant)

Stefanie Meyer (Technical Assistant)

Dr. Micaela Ruiz (Post Doc)

Dr. Gerlien Verhaegen (Post Doc)

Annkathrin Dischereit (PhD student)

Ayla Murray (PhD student)

Dmitrii Pantiukhin (PhD student

Meret Jucker (MSc student)

Julia Throm (MSc student)

Ishani Rathnayake (MSc student)

Niko Steiner (MSc student)

Madlen Friedrich (Guest scientist)

You can follow our recent activities on Instagram @arctic.jellies