Life history; Population dynamics; Statoliths; Carukia barnesi Southcott, 1967 [WoRMS]; Carybdeida [WoRMS]; Chirodropida [WoRMS]; Cubozoa [WoRMS]; Marine
Irukandji; Carybdeids; Chirodropids; Age of jellyfish; Cubomedusae eyes; Predatory impact; Climate warming; Ocean acidification
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- Kingsford, M.J.
- Mooney, C.J.
>Cubozoa are poorly known compared to their scyphozoan relatives. This has partly been due to a limited knowledge of taxonomy, the rarity of some taxa as well as extreme temporal and spatial variation in abundance of medusae. The latter may reflect the small spatial scales of many populations. Although cubozoan medusae vary greatly in size, they are all excellent swimmers and have strong orientation behaviour. This, combined with resting on the bottom for extended periods of the day in some taxa (e.g. Copula sivickisi), suggests that dispersal may be limited. Despite this, some taxa, such as Tripedalia cystophora, have broad pantropical distributions suggesting a successful phenotype and a long geologic history. Statoliths allow medusae to be aged and provide unique opportunities to obtain accurate estimates of growth and to test ecological hypotheses. The life histories of few taxa have been studied, and until recently only the life cycle of Tripedalia cystophora had been fully described. The ability to rear species is critical for experimentation. Further, knowledge of the ecology of cubozoans is important for understanding population dynamics and predicting risk to swimmers and prey. With the exception of worldwide occurrences, population units have not been determined using well-known tools such as comparative morphology, genetics and elemental chemistry, and this is overdue. New technology is offering exciting ways to study these elusive creatures. This, combined with experimentation, will provide a better understanding of the physical and biological factors influencing the distribution and abundance of cubozoans within and among populations, both now and under climate change.