A review of the global diversity and natural history of stalked jellyfishes (Cnidaria, Staurozoa)
In this review, we present the current state of biodiversity knowledge for the class Staurozoa (Cnidaria), including richness estimates, geographical and bathymetric distributions, substrate use, feeding, behavior, life cycle, and conservation. Based on non-parametric, statistical incidence estimators, the global inventory of 50 known and accepted species of stalked jellyfishes might be regarded as close to complete, but we discuss possible bias related to the lower research effort applied in the Southern Hemisphere. Most of the species occur at mid-latitudes, presenting a distributional pattern that disagrees with the classic pattern of diversity (higher richness near the Equator). Specimens are frequently found on algae, but they have also been reported attached to rocks, seagrasses, shells, mud, sand, coral/gorgonian, sea cucumber, and serpulid tube. Most of the species are found in the intertidal and shallow subtidal regions, but species of Lucernaria have been reported at more than 3000 m deep. Amphipods and copepods are the prey items most frequently reported, and stauromedusae have been observed being actively preyed upon by nudibranch mollusks and pycnogonids. Apparently, stalked jellyfishes have a high sensitivity to anthropic impacts in the environment, and promotion of the class, one of the least studied among Cnidaria, is perhaps the best possible conservation strategy.