To date, a disparate array of concepts and methods have been used to study the growth of jellyfish, with the result that few generalities have emerged which could help, e.g., in predicting growth patterns in unstudied species. It is shown that this situation can be overcome by length-frequency analysis (LFA), applied to jellyfish bell diameter (i.e., “length”) frequency data. A selection of LFA methods (ELEFAN, Wetherall plots and length-converted catch curves, all implemented in the FiSAT software) is applied here to 34 sets of bell diameter frequency data of jellyfish. This led to the estimates of parameters of the von Bertalanffy growth function (VBGF), which, especially in its seasonal form, was found to fit the available size-frequency data reasonably well. We also obtained numerous estimates of mortality, useful for modeling the life history of jellyfish. Finally, by scaling their asymptotic weight (W ∞, a parameter of the VBGF) to the weight they would have if they had the same water content as fish, we show that most jellyfish grow at the same rate as small fishes (guppies and anchovies). As in fish, the VBGF parameters K and W ∞, when plotted in a double logarithmic (“auximetric”) plot, tend to cluster into ellipsoid shapes, which increase in area when shifting from species to genera, families, etc. If validated by subsequent studies, auximetric plots for jellyfish would provide a powerful tool for testing comparative hypotheses on jellyfish life history.
KeywordsVon Bertalanffy growth function Length-frequency analysis ELEFAN FiSAT Natural mortality Water content
We would like to thank Ms. Christine Dar (SeaLifeBase Project, Philippines) for help with assembling the data in the correct format for VBGF analysis and for extracting and encoding in SeaLifeBase, over a short period of time, the life history and ecological information on jellyfishes. We would also like to thank Dr. Laura E. Martin (Coral Reef Research Foundation and University of California, Merced) for sending us unpublished jellyfish size-frequency data, which extended the coverage of the analysis presented here.
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