Reduced pH affects pulsing behaviour and body size in ephyrae of the moon jellyfish, Aurelia aurita

Our understanding of how reduced seawater pH affects the behaviour and growth of scyphozoan jellyfish is poor. Here, we investigated the effects of simulated Ocean Acidification (OA) (pH = 7.6 for 7 d) on pulsing behaviour (as an index of swimming behaviour) and aspects of the morphology of ephyrae of the moon jellyfish Aurelia aurita. Ephyrae exposed to reduced pH had a significantly smaller surface area, central disc area, and lappet length and width than controls. Pulsation rate was significantly lower, and the mean pulse-to-pulse period shorter, in the reduced pH treatment. There was, however, no significant treatment effect on either the maximum or minimum pulse-to-pulse period, suggesting that the ability for rapid pulsations was maintained. Ephyrae from the reduced pH treatment displayed a more variable pulsation behaviour, with an elevated standard deviation and root mean square of successive difference (RMSSD) in pulse-to-pulse period. In summary, reduced pH simulating future predicted Ocean Acidification conditions, had important effects on aspects of swimming behaviour and size of A. aurita ephyra, which may have consequences for survival and the population dynamics of field populations.

Tills O., Sun X., Rundle S. D., Heimbach T., Gibson T., Cartwright A., Palmer M., Rudin-Bitterli T. & Spicer J. I., 2016. Reduced pH affects pulsing behaviour and body size in ephyrae of the moon jellyfish, Aurelia aurita. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 480:54–61. Article (subscription required).


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