, Volume 645, Issue 1, pp 39–52 | Cite as

Effects of pH on asexual reproduction and statolith formation of the scyphozoan, Aurelia labiata

  • Amanda K. Winans
  • Jennifer E. Purcell


Although anthropogenic influences such as global warming, overfishing, and eutrophication may contribute to jellyfish blooms, little is known about the effects of ocean acidification on jellyfish. Most medusae form statoliths of calcium sulfate hemihydrate that are components of their balance organs (statocysts). This study was designed to test the effects of pH (7.9, within the average current range, 7.5, expected by 2100, and 7.2, expected by 2300) combined with two temperatures (9 and 15°C) on asexual reproduction and statolith formation of the moon jellyfish, Aurelia labiata. Polyp survival was 100% after 122 d in seawater in all six temperature and pH combinations. Because few polyps at 9°C strobilated, and temperature effects on budding were consistent with published results, we did not analyze data from those three treatments further. At 15°C, there were no significant effects of pH on the numbers of ephyrae or buds produced per polyp or on the numbers of statoliths per statocyst; however, statolith size was significantly smaller in ephyrae released from polyps reared at low pH. Our results indicate that A. labiata polyps are quite tolerant of low pH, surviving and reproducing asexually even at the lowest tested pH; however, the effects of small statoliths on ephyra fitness are unknown. Future research on the behavior of ephyrae with small statoliths would further our understanding of how ocean acidification may affect jellyfish survival in nature.


Jellyfish Ocean acidification Statolith pH Reproduction 



We thank Dr. V. J. Fabry for inviting J. E. P. to the Ocean Carbon and Biogeochemistry Scoping Workshop on Ocean Acidification Research in 2007, and her advice on methodology for this research. We thank Drs. Gisele Muller-Parker, Benjamin Miner, and Brian Bingham for their valuable comments. We are indebted to the following people for their assistance; Rachel Garcia, Ritupreet Virk, Brandy Carpenter, Jen Moore, Dr. Gary Winans, Nathan Schwarck, Gene McKeen, Carissa Haug, Jeannie Gilbert, Peter Thut, Chandler Colahan, Alyssa Gehman, Sylvia Graham, Lauren Chomiczewski, and Carmen Guerra. Jellyfish polyps were provided by the Seattle Aquarium with help from Kathryn Kegel and Roland Anderson. We also thank Dr. K. L. Van Alstyne for sharing her information on diel intertidal pH levels. Financial support was provided by Western Washington University through the RSP Fund for the Enhancement of Graduate Research and the Biology Faculty Fellowship Fund.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biology DepartmentWestern Washington UniversityBellinghamUSA
  2. 2.Shannon Point Marine CenterWestern Washington UniversityAnacortesUSA
  3. 3.Coastal and Marine Resources Centre, University College CorkCobhIreland

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