Development and biology of Periphylla periphylla (Scyphozoa: Coronatae) in a Norwegian fjord
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The globally distributed coronate scyphomedusa Periphylla periphylla (Peron and Lesueur, 1809) occurs in permanent and extremely high abundance in some Norwegian fjords. Studies on the species in Lurefjorden, 40 km north of Bergen, have revealed a holopelagic life cycle with direct development. We distinguished 14 successive developmental stages, characterised by size and morphology. Eggs and early stages are non-mobile, neutrally buoyant, and found mainly at intermediate depths. Rearing studies indicated a development time of 2–3 months from fertilisation to stage 9, when the medusa starts feeding and becomes motile. The fjord population usually shows a strong diel vertical migration, with aggregations at shallower depths during the night. The development includes a gradual increase in pigmentation (porphyrins), starting with the stomach, and thereafter extending to tentacles and the whole exumbrella. This pigment is photodegraded by natural light. Rearing experiments in the laboratory have shown a lethal effect of light. Here, development stops at stage 5. Pigments become visible in stage 7. Older medusae are severely damaged and killed within a few days by exposure to daylight. All stages of P. periphylla are bioluminescent, with this capacity increasing with growth, probably in connection with the development of the nervous net. The light reaction starts at the point of stimulation and spreads at two different speeds corresponding to the two nerve nets of the medusae. The coronal furrow has a central function in transmission of the reaction. It is hypothesised that the bioluminescence is used mainly as a warning to some potential predators, signalling that the porphyrin-containing medusa is unpalatable. P. periphylla has the same two categories of nematocysts as other coronates, with a total of six different types. Nematocyst abundance, distribution and morphology indicate their function. The giant euryteles (capsule up to 100 µm and tubule up to 1160 µm) are the largest ones known among Scyphozoa, and are unique in that this size increases during medusa development.
KeywordsShallow Depth Vertical Migration Lethal Effect Direct Development Natural Light
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