Density-dependent effects control the reproductive strategy and population growth of Aureliaaurita s.l. scyphistomae
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Aureliaaurita s.l. scyphistomae are capable of developing different asexual modes for propagation and thus present a multi-mode reproductive strategy. The reproduction rates and the reproductive strategy they adopt depend on a combination of various environmental parameters. We investigated the A.aurita s.l. polyp-to-polyp reproduction strategy and population growth in relation to polyp density. Our results confirmed that density-dependent factors control population growth of A. aurita s.l. scyphistomae in three different ways: (1) decreasing the polyp reproduction rate, (2) triggering the production of motile bud-like tissue particles and (3) inducing the detachment of developed scyphistomae. Whereas the decrease in the reproduction rate reduces the number of recruits, the motile particles and the detachment of scyphistomae contribute to minimizing density-dependent effects by allowing reproductive products and scyphistomae to drift away. Thus, not only are the negative effects of intraspecific competition for space and food diminished but also the potential colonization of new substrates, and further increase in scyphistoma density is favoured on larger spatial scales. The potential capability to switch its polyp-to-polyp reproduction strategy in response to environmental clues and population density may give Aurelia high adaptability in the temperate coastal waters where they commonly live and where they may be exposed to wide-ranging and fluctuating environmental variables that affect their survival and longevity. Considering these features, as well as the wide tolerance of Aurelia scyphistomae (and medusae) to environmental parameters, it is not surprising that the species/lineages of Aurelia are cosmopolitan and exhibit the most frequent bloom events worldwide.
KeywordsReproductive Strategy Reproduction Rate Reproduction Strategy Reproductive Product Moon Jellyfish
This work was partially funded by Grants CONICET PIP 2013 00615 and PICT 2013-1713 (Argentina), and Bilateral Collaboration Project Argentina (MINCyT)—Slovenia (Slovenian Research Agency) (SLO 1106) and EU FP7 PERSEUS project. We thank the Associate Editor and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments which greatly improved the quality of this manuscript. This is INIDEP Contribution No. 1938.
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