Marine Biology

, Volume 143, Issue 2, pp 369–379 | Cite as

Macro-morphological variation among cryptic species of the moon jellyfish, Aurelia (Cnidaria: Scyphozoa)

  • M.N. DawsonEmail author


Morphological variation in qualitative and quantitative features is compared among species of Aurelia defined a priori using molecular criteria. Macro-morphological features were more numerous than previously implied (28 cf. 17), most were variable (26 of 28), and all species were morphologically distinguishable using univariate, multivariate and phylogenetic statistics. However, due to discrepant morphological descriptions, Aurelia spp. 3, 4, and 6 could not be assigned reliably to any previously described species, and there are still insufficient macro-morphological characters and variation to reconstruct a statistically robust phylogeny for even the 12 known species of Aurelia. Yet it is shown that Aurelia aurita is most likely endemic to the boreal Atlantic Ocean and northern European seas, Aurelia labiata is neither as morphologically diverse nor widespread as recently described, and the circumglobal Aurelia sp. 1 is probably introduced across much of its range.


Cryptic Species Maximum Parsimony Analysis Bell Diameter Radial Canal Robust Phylogeny 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The early development of this project was contributed to by K.A. Raskoff, L.E. Martin, W.M. Hamner, and L.A. Gershwin. Fieldwork would not have been possible without help from L.E. Martin. M.N. Arai provided invaluable advice on the history of the taxonomy of Aurelia. Draft manuscripts were critiqued by J.A.H. Benzie, L.E. Martin, and anonymous reviewers. Work in Palau was permitted by and complied with regulations of the national Division of Marine Resources and Koror State Government, Palau. Fieldwork was facilitated by Fish ‘n Fins and the Palau Conservation Society. The project was funded by grants from the University of California (UCLA), the Department of Organismic Biology, Ecology, and Evolution at UCLA, the International Women’s Fishing Association, the American Museum of Natural History (Lerner-Grey Award), and the British Schools and Universities Foundation. A Vice-Chancellor’s Post-Doctoral Fellowship from the University of New South Wales provided the opportunity to complete data analyses and preparation of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Marine and Coastal StudiesUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Organismic Biology, Ecology and EvolutionUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.Coral Reef Research FoundationKororPalau

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