Physiological and morphological responses of 'Irukandji' polyps to thermal and osmotic conditions: consequences for niche profiling

Rowley, Olivia C., Courtney, Robert L., Northfield, Tobin D., and Seymour, Jamie E. (2023) Physiological and morphological responses of 'Irukandji' polyps to thermal and osmotic conditions: consequences for niche profiling. Hydrobiologia, 850. pp. 1207-1216.

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The Irukandji jellyfish (Carukia barnesi) is a medically important species. While the medusa stage of this species is well known, due to its highly venomous sting, the benthic polyp has core roles in regulating both the timing and abundance of medusa making it a research priority. However, due to their small size, Carukia barnesi polyps have never been found in situ and, basic ecological knowledge surrounding this life stage is limited. In this study we adopt a lab-based approach, utilizing physiological tolerance as a functional tool, to gain new insights into the in situ location for Carukia barnesi polyps. The physiological tolerance of Carukia barnesi polyps was characterized by measuring the oxygen consumption rates of polyps exposed to different salinity/temperature combinations. A total of nine salinities and seven temperatures were investigated, ranging from 11 °C/16‰ to 34 °C/42.5‰, encompassing the spectrum of environments experienced on the Great Barrier Reef. Polyps were also monitored for morphological changes such as asexual reproduction, polyp deterioration, and mortality. Salinity did not have a significant effect on oxygen consumption rates, with Carukia barnesi polyps displaying a significant tolerance to a wide range of salinities. The effect of temperature, however, was statistically significant with oxygen °consumption rates increasing alongside water temperature. There was no statistical evidence to support an interactive effect between salinity and temperature. Based on these results, we conclude that the polyp stage of this species is likely located in an environment with stable temperatures and fluctuating salinities and, consequently, future endeavors aimed at locating this life stage should expand targeted survey areas outside stable oceanic environments, typical of medusa, and encompass dynamic environments such as estuaries and submarine freshwater upwellings.

Item ID: 78539
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1573-5117
Keywords: In situ location, Irukandji, Logistically difficult species, Metabolic rate, Niche modeling, Oxygen consumption
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Copyright Information: Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit Open Access funding enabled and organized by CAUL and its Member Institutions.
Date Deposited: 09 Aug 2023 02:29
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3109 Zoology > 310907 Animal physiological ecology @ 50%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 50%
SEO Codes: 28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280102 Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences @ 100%
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