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, 8 (5), 809-12

Ctenophore Population Recruits Entirely Through Larval Reproduction in the Central Baltic Sea

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Ctenophore Population Recruits Entirely Through Larval Reproduction in the Central Baltic Sea

Cornelia Jaspers et al. Biol Lett.

Abstract

The comb jelly Mertensia ovum, widely distributed in Arctic regions, has recently been discovered in the northern Baltic Sea. We show that M. ovum also exists in the central Baltic but that the population consists solely of small-sized larvae (less than 1.6 mm). Despite the absence of adults, eggs were abundant. Experiments revealed that the larvae were reproductively active. Egg production and anticipated mortality rates suggest a self-sustaining population. This is the first account of a ctenophore population entirely recruiting through larval reproduction (paedogenesis). We hypothesize that early reproduction is favoured over growth to compensate for high predation pressure.

Figures

Figure 1.
Figure 1.
Integrated seasonal Mertensia ovum larvae (bars with stripes) and egg (black bars) distribution in the central Baltic Sea, 2009/2010 (pooled for season ±s.d.).
Figure 2.
Figure 2.
(a) Seasonal size distribution of Mertensia ovum in the central Baltic (0.15 mm size bins, averages (dashed lines), log-transformed lengths significantly differed with season (one-way ANOVA F3,7845 = 821, p < 0.0001) (b) size-dependent egg production at 7 °C, October 2009 (average sizes ±s.e.) (c) log ratio of observed to expected egg abundance with zero observations substituted by 0.1 (log ratio = 0, no egg mortality). The fraction of stations where expected egg abundance exceeds observed egg abundance does not differ significantly from 50% (p = 0.36).

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