Linking human well-being and jellyfish: ecosystem services, impacts, and societal responses Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • 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.

publication date

  • November 2014