Marine Biology

, 163:103 | Cite as

The influence of salinity on box jellyfish (Chironex fleckeri, Cubozoa) statolith elemental chemistry

  • Christopher J. Mooney
  • Michael J. KingsfordEmail author
Original paper


Very little is known on the sources and movements of the potentially fatal cubomedusae Chironex fleckeri found around estuary mouths and beaches along tropical coastlines of Australia. Largely anecdotal evidence suggests an alternating season of polyps in protected estuaries during the dry season and medusae emerging from estuaries to feed along beaches with the onset of the monsoonal season. An experiment was conducted on young wild-caught C. fleckeri medusae (caught at Cape York, Australia, in November 2012) to establish how elemental incorporation into statoliths was affected by salinity. A critical salinity test revealed medusae inhabit salinities >20. Medusae were held in salinities of 22, 26, 30 and 34 (n = 5 per treatment) for a duration of 4 days. Laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry was used to analyse experimental areas of statoliths and solution-based ICPMS used for analysing water samples taken from each treatment. Statolith Mg Ca−1 and the partition coefficient (D Mg) significantly differed among treatments and were the only element Ca−1 ratios to do so. Multi-element Ca−1 signatures could also discriminate among salinity treatments. Partition coefficients revealed D Mg, D Sr and D Li were 2.62 × 10−6–0.81 and D Ba, D Mn and D Zn 1.87–431. Experimental and strong correlative evidence suggested that temperature exposure and not salinity was responsible for the significant patterns seen in statolith Sr Ca−1 found by Mooney and Kingsford (2012). Statolith chemistry shows strong promise for determining the movement of medusae through water bodies where there are known thermal and salinity gradients.


Inductively Couple Plasma Mass Spectrometry Salinity Treatment Laser Ablation Inductively Couple Plasma Mass Spectrometry Calcify Structure Canonical Discriminant Analysis 
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.



We would like to thank volunteers Mark O’Callaghan and Avril Underwood for assistance in Weipa, Yi Hu at AAC for assistance with SO-ICPMS and Townsville Lifeguard Service for provision of some statoliths from the Strand, Townsville. This research was supported by a grant from the Australian Lions Foundation to CJM. We also thank Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol, Fisheries Queensland for use of their Evans Landing facility to conduct the experiment.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, College of Marine and Environmental SciencesJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia

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