Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Unravelling the macro-evolutionary ecology of fish–jellyfish associations: life in the ‘gingerbread house’

Griffin, Donal C.; Harrod, Chris; Houghton, Jonathan D. R.; Capellini, Isabella


Donal C. Griffin

Chris Harrod

Jonathan D. R. Houghton

Isabella Capellini


Fish–jellyfish interactions are important factors contributing to fish stock success. Jellyfish can compete with fish for food resources, or feed on fish eggs and larvae, which works to reduce survivorship and recruitment of fish species. However, jellyfish also provide habitat and space for developing larval and juvenile fish which use their hosts as means of protection from predators and feeding opportunities, helping to reduce fish mortality and increase recruitment. Yet, relatively little is known about the evolutionary dynamics and drivers of such associations which would allow for their more effective incorporation into ecosystem models. Here, we found that jellyfish association is a probable adaptive anti-predator strategy for juvenile fish, more likely to evolve in benthic (fish living on the sea floor), benthopelagic (fish living just above the bottom of the seafloor), and reef-associating species than those adapted to other marine habitats. We also found that jellyfish association likely preceded the evolution of a benthic, benthopelagic, and reef-associating lifestyle rather than its evolutionary consequence, as we originally hypothesized. Considering over two-thirds of the associating fish identified here are of economic importance, and the wide-scale occurrence and diversity of species involved, it is clear the formation of fish–jellyfish associations is an important but complex process in relation to the success of fish stocks globally.


Griffin, D. C., Harrod, C., Houghton, J. D. R., & Capellini, I. (2019). Unravelling the macro-evolutionary ecology of fish–jellyfish associations: life in the ‘gingerbread house’. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 286(1899), 20182325.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 22, 2019
Online Publication Date Mar 20, 2019
Publication Date Mar 27, 2019
Deposit Date Mar 20, 2019
Publicly Available Date Mar 20, 2019
Journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Print ISSN 0962-8452
Electronic ISSN 1471-2954
Publisher The Royal Society
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 286
Issue 1899
Pages 20182325
Keywords General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology; General Immunology and Microbiology; General Agricultural and Biological Sciences; General Environmental Science; General Medicine
Public URL
Publisher URL


Article (896 Kb)

Copyright Statement
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

You might also like

Downloadable Citations