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Dynamics and asexual reproduction of the jellyfish Aurelia coerulea benthic life stage in the Thau lagoon (northwestern Mediterranean)

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For many jellyfish, the magnitude and timing of medusae blooms are recognized to result from the benthic stage dynamics. However, information on the scyphistomae of jellyfish populations in the wild remains scarce. Here, bi-mensual underwater photoquadrat surveys were combined with scyphistomae sampling and observation to describe the annual (February 2017–January 2018) benthic stage dynamics and asexual reproduction strategy of Aurelia coerulea in the Thau lagoon (43°25′31.1″N; 03°42′0.9″E). Our results revealed unexpected seasonal patterns of variation: scyphistoma coverage peaked in the spring (11.6 ± 3.7% on 21st April) and was minimal in the summer and autumn (1.4 ± 1.3% on 10th October). The increase in scyphistoma coverage mainly resulted from an intense production of buds between February and April during the spring rise in water temperature (peak of 12,800 buds m−2 on 21st April), but scyphistoma coverage appeared to be negatively influenced by the interaction of high summer temperatures and salinities. Strobilation was observed from November to April. It peaked on 17th November, with 33.1% of the scyphistomae strobilating and an average production of 19,100 strobila disks m−2. However, the low scyphistoma coverage at this time of the year (< 2%) likely limited the intensity of ephyrae liberation and the subsequent medusae bloom. The final population size of A. coerulea thus results from a complex interaction of abiotic and biotic factors. Our results bring into question how the different populations of Aurelia spp. will respond to the predicted global warming scenarios.

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Source: IGN (Institut Geographique National) and IFREMER (Institut Français de Recherche pour l'exploitation de la Mer)

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We thank Nicholas Nouguier and Remy Valdes for their technical support and expertise during SCUBA dives and field work. Chlorophyll a and mesozooplankton data are part of a long-term monitoring programme on microbial communities in Thau lagoon funded by Observatoire des Sciences de l’Univers OREME (OSU-OREME). Data are available on ( We also thank the reviewers and the handling editor for valuable comments on this paper.

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Correspondence to Raquel Marques.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. The jellyfish Aurelia coerulea is an invertebrate which is not endangered or protected species and therefore, no permits were needed for sampling their scyphistomae. All bivalves with attached scyphistomae were released alive after laboratory observation.

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Responsible Editor: J. Purcell.

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Marques, R., Darnaude, A.M., Schiariti, A. et al. Dynamics and asexual reproduction of the jellyfish Aurelia coerulea benthic life stage in the Thau lagoon (northwestern Mediterranean). Mar Biol 166, 74 (2019).

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