PhD (Zoology)
Thesis Topic

Jellyfish populations are increasing in numerous ecosystems around the globe. Not surprisingly, these increases are not uniform across time and space. So why are jellyfish increasing in some places and not others? What are the consequences for humans and ecosystems? And what, if anything, can we do to manage or prevent increasing jellyfish blooms?

Jellyfish population dynamics are complex, partly because of the unique life cycles of many species. Jellyfish may exist as pulsing medusae, sessile polyps, or cysts capable of resisting harsh environmental conditions. Reproductive strategies include sexual and asexual reproduction, as well as hermaphroditism. As such, jellyfish populations are influenced by a variety of anthropogenic and environmental factors at different, often cryptic, life stages.

Increasing jellyfish populations can impact humans in both negative and positive ways. Industries such as tourism, aquaculture, fishing, power generation, desalination, and shipping have all reported considerable economic losses due to jellyfish blooms. In contrast, fisheries that harvest jellyfish for food are expanding around the globe, and jellyfish are now a popular draw for public aquaria. As both human and jellyfish populations increase, new interactions are sure to emerge, as jellyfish get in our way and as we find new ways to exploit them.

Ironically, it appears that in some cases, humans may be responsible for the observed increases in jellyfish populations. While there is no single cause of increasing jellyfish populations, there is evidence that fishing, pollution, aquaculture, shipping, global warming, and coastal development can all create conditions that favour jellyfish over fish. Most of these links are only correlative, but the rise of jellyfish in coastal ecosystems worldwide should be cause for concern. We may need to decide now whether or not we want our children to be eating jellyfish burgers. If our behaviour doesn’t change, they might not have a choice.

Supervisor(s) Name(s)
Dr. Daniel Pauly
Nationality
Canada
Awards
Michael A. Bigg Award for Outstanding Student Research
UBC Faculty of Science Graduate Award
UBC Outstanding Student Initiative Award
Publications

Peer Reviewed Publications

L. Brotz, A. Schiariti, J. López-Martínez, J. Álvarez-Tello, Y.-H.P. Hsieh, R.P. Jones, J. Quiñones, Z. Dong, A.C. Morandini, M. Preciado, E. Laaz, & H. Mianzan (2017). Jellyfish fisheries in the Americas: origin, state of the art, and perspectives on new fishing grounds. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries 27(1): 1-29.

L. Brotz & D. Pauly (2017). Studying jellyfish fisheries: toward accurate national catch reports and appropriate methods for stock assessments. In: G.L. Mariottini (ed.) Jellyfish: Ecology, Distribution Patterns and Human Interactions. Nova Publishers, Hauppauge, New York, U.S.A.: 313-329.

G.L. Mariottini & L. Brotz (2017). Cnidarian venoms and alternative research methods: from cell damage to possible applications. In: G.L. Mariottini (ed.) Jellyfish: Ecology, Distribution Patterns and Human Interactions. Nova Publishers, Hauppauge, New York, U.S.A.: 257-276.

Population Modelling Working Group (2016). Population Modelling by Examples II, SCSC ’16 Proceedings of the Summer Computer Simulation Conference (SummerSim) Article No. 51, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Society for Computer Simulation International.

F. Boero, L. Brotz, M.J. Gibbons, S. Piraino, & S. Zampardi (2016). Impacts and effects of warming on jellyfish. In: D. Laffoley & J.M. Baxter (eds.) Explaining ocean warming: Causes, scale, effects and consequences. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland: 213-237.

M.J. Gibbons, F. Boero, & L. Brotz (2016). We should not assume that fishing jellyfish will solve our jellyfish problem. ICES Journal of Marine Science 73(4): 1012-1018.

E.J. Gregr, R. Gryba, M.C. James, L. Brotz, & S.J. Thornton (2015). Information relevant to the identification of critical habitat for Leatherback Sea Turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) in Canadian Pacific waters. DFO Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat Research Document 2015/079: vii + 32pp.

W.M. Graham, S. Gelcich, K.L. Robinson, C.M. Duarte, L. Brotz, J.E. Purcell, L.P. Madin, H. Mianzan, K.R. Sutherland, S. Uye, K.A. Pitt, C.H. Lucas, M. Bøgeberg, R.D. Brodeur, & R.H. Condon (2014). Linking human well-being and jellyfish: ecosystem services, impacts, and societal responses. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 12(9): 515-523.

C.M. Duarte, K.A. Pitt, C.H. Lucas, J.E. Purcell, S. Uye, K. Robinson, L. Brotz, M.B. Decker, K.R. Sutherland, A. Malej, L. Madin, H. Mianzan, J.M. Gili, V. Fuentes, D. Atienza, F. Pagés, D. Breitburg, J. Malek, W.M. Graham, & R. Condon (2013). Is global ocean sprawl a cause of jellyfish blooms? Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 11(2): 91-97.

L. Brotz, W.W.L. Cheung, K. Kleisner, E. Pakhomov, & D. Pauly (2012). Increasing jellyfish populations: trends in Large Marine Ecosystems. Hydrobiologia 690(1): 3-20.

  • Thomson Reuters “Highly Cited Paper”
  • Selected as being of “special significance” and a “must read” by F1000.com

L. Brotz & D. Pauly (2012). Jellyfish populations in the Mediterranean Sea. Acta Adriatica 53(2): 211-230.


Selected Publications

L. Brotz (2016). Jellyfish fisheries of the world. PhD dissertation, Zoology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.

L. Brotz (2016). Jellyfish fisheries – a global assessment. In: D. Pauly & D. Zeller (eds.) Global Atlas of Marine Fisheries: A Critical Appraisal of Catches and Ecosystem Impacts. Island Press. Washington, D.C., U.S.A.: 110-124.

A. Cisneros-Montemayor & L. Brotz (2014). Jellyfishing in Mexico: the burgers are ready. Sea Around Us Newsletter (81).

L. Brotz (2012). Of leatherbacks and lion’s manes. Sea Around Us Newsletter (71): 1-4.

L. Brotz (2012). Learning about Pacific leatherback sea turtles by examining jellyfish. Report prepared for Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 29 pp.

W.W.L. Cheung, D. Zeller, M. Palomares, D. Al-Abdulrazzak, L. Brotz, V. Lam, M. Paleczny, & D. Pauly (2012). A preliminary assessment of climate change impacts on marine ecosystems and fisheries of the Arabian Gulf. Report to Climate Change Research Group/LLC.

L. Brotz (2011). Changing jellyfish populations: trends in Large Marine Ecosystems. Fisheries Centre Research Report 19(5), Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia, 105 pp.

L. Brotz, M. Lebrato, K.L. Robinson, M. Sexton, A. Sweetman, K. Pitt, & R. Condon (2011). Implications of increased carbon supply for the global expansion of jellyfish blooms. Limnology & Oceanography Bulletin 20(2): 38-39.

L. Brotz (2011). Are jellyfish the food of the future? INFOFISH International (4): 60-63.

L. Brotz (2010). Gelatinous Seas. Discovery, Nature Vancouver (39): 14-20.

L. Brotz (2010). Mi Querida Argentina. Sea Around Us Newsletter (60): 1-3.

L. Brotz (2010). What’s for dinner? Sea Around Us Newsletter (57): 4-5.


Selected Media Coverage

Oft-overlooked jellyfish fisheries are too big to ignore, Hakai Magazine, December 8, 2016.
Jellymageddon: Can we stop the rise of the jellyfish? New Scientist, July 13, 2016.

Are jellyfish going to take over the oceans? The Guardian, August 21, 2015.
How jellyfish have become nature’s ultimate guerrilla protestors against power plants, Washington Post, July 7, 2015.
Jellyfish Rule! The Nature of Things, CBC Television, April 2, 2015.
What you need to know about the coming jellyfish apocalypse, Mother Jones, June 30, 2014.
Water-borne zombies, London Review of Books 36(5): 31-32, March 6, 2014.
Jellyfish in oceans reaching problematic proportions, Huffington Post, October 17, 2013.
The jellyfish are coming! Experts tangle with exploding population, NBC News, October 7, 2013.
The giant jellyfish invasion mystery, Toronto Star, September 16, 2013.
What’s behind that jellyfish sting? Smithsonian Blog, August 30, 2013.
Jellyfish invasion, Costing the Earth, BBC Radio, May 22, 2012.
Jellyfish populations booming. CBC News, April 20, 2012.
Menace from the ocean deep. National Post, April 19 2012 (front page).
Attack of the blobs. Nature (482): 20-21, February 2, 2012.
Jellyfish swarms: menacing or misunderstood? LiveScience, October 20, 2010.
Tofu of the sea. Edible Vancouver (12): 18-19, Summer 2010.
Invasion of the holiday snatchers. The Economist.com, March 31, 2008.


Committees and Working Groups

  • Population Modelling Working Group (2016)
  • Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO) Image Library Committee (2015-present)
  • Pacific Canada Leatherback Sea Turtle Recovery Team (2011-present)
  • North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES) Jellyfish Working Group (2010-present)
  • Scientific Steering Committee, Ocean Observing Systems and Ecosystem Monitoring, PICES Summer School (2013)
  • National Centre for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) Jellyfish Working Group (2009-2012)


Conference Proceedings and Seminars

L. Brotz (2016) Jellyfish fisheries – what’s the catch? 5th International Jellyfish Bloom Symposium, Barcelona, Spain.

Population Modelling Working Group (2016) Population Modelling by Examples II. Summer Simulation Multi-Conference, Society for Modelling & Simulation International, Montreal, Canada.

L. Brotz (2016) Jellyfish Bloom[s] – here, there, and everywhere? Presentation to the Bloom Association, Paris, France (invited).

L. Brotz (2016) Jellyfish fisheries of the world – past, present, and future. ICES/PICES 6th International Zooplankton Production Symposium, Bergen, Norway (invited).

L. Brotz (2015) Are jellyfish the seafood of the future? Research, Sustainability and Innovation in New Foods, National Research Council of Italy, EXPO2015, Milan, Italy (invited).

L. Brotz, M. Cisneros-Mata, A. Cisneros-Montemayor, & D. Pauly (2015) The race is on: fishing for jellyfish in Mexico and beyond. PERSEUS International Workshop on Jellyfish, Cadiz, Spain (invited).

L. Brotz & D. Pauly (2015) Fishing for jellyfish: what’s the catch? Aquatic Sciences Meeting, Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO), Granada, Spain.

L. Brotz (2014) Jellyfish in British Columbia and Around the World. Sea Kayak Association of BC, Vancouver, Canada (invited).

L. Brotz & D. Pauly (2013) Jellyfish fisheries – FAO catch statistics and known unknowns. Fourth International Jellyfish Blooms Symposium, Hiroshima, Japan.

A. Schiariti, H. Mianzan, J. López, Y.-H.P. Hsieh, L. Brotz, & J. Quiñones (2013) Jellyfish fisheries in the Americas – origin, state of the art, and perspectives on new fishing grounds. Fourth International Jellyfish Blooms Symposium, Hiroshima, Japan.

L. Brotz, L. Gershwin, & D. Pauly (2013). Jellyfish blooms and the future of our oceans. Vancouver Aquarium, Vancouver, Canada (invited).

L. Brotz, W.W.L. Cheung, R. Watson, K. Kleisner, E. Pakhomov, P. Cury, R. Maranger, B. Campbell, & D. Pauly (2012). Anthropogenic impacts related to observed increases of jellyfish populations. PICES Annual Meeting, Hiroshima, Japan.

L. Brotz (2012). Jellyfish and humans – a love/hate relationship. Pacific Biological Station Seminar Series, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Nanaimo, Canada (invited).

M.C. Villanueva, L. Brotz, & D. Pauly (2011). Jellyfishes: threat to the health of marine ecosystems. Vulnerability of Coastal Ecosystems to Global Change and Extreme Events, Biarritz, France.

L. Brotz (2011). Changing jellyfish populations – trends in Large Marine Ecosystems. Aquatic Sciences Meeting, Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO), San Juan, Puerto Rico.

L. Brotz (2010). Assessing changes in jellyfish populations – an evaluation of abundance trends in Large Marine Ecosystems. Third International Jellyfish Blooms Symposium, Mar del Plata, Argentina.

D. Pauly & L. Brotz (2010). Changes of jellyfish abundance: testing hypotheses at the Large Marine Ecosystem scale. Keynote, Third International Jellyfish Blooms Symposium, Mar del Plata, Argentina.

L. Brotz (2009). Jellyfish and humans – a slippery slope. Marine Biology Section, Nature Vancouver, Vancouver, Canada (invited).