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Coelenterates (cnidaria and ctenophores) are well recognized as predators in food webs of marine ecosystems but are less often considered as prey. This is partly because they are digested very rapidly. In studies based on predator stomach contents the measured masses of different prey organisms are rarely scaled by their relative rates of digestion. Predators that are frozen and thawed, or for which whole stomachs are placed in preservatives, may have already lost much of their coelenterate content when they are examined. There is also a tendency to assume that gelatinous organisms, with their high water and salt content relative to organic content, are poor food. However, given the high rates of digestion (and presumably of assimilation) coelenterates may provide sources of energy comparable to better recognized prey such as arthropods. It is already becoming well documented that a number of cnidaria and ctenophores as well as fish utilize gelatinous organisms as prey. Data is accumulating more slowly on predation by a wide range of other carnivores such as molluscs, arthropods, reptiles and birds.
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