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The macroecology of globally-distributed deep-sea jellyfish
Hardinge, G. (2020). The macroecology of globally-distributed deep-sea jellyfish. PhD Thesis. University of Southampton: Southampton. 249 pp.

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Document type: Dissertation

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  • Hardinge, G.

    Macroecology provides a framework for understanding how local- and regional-scale processes interact, allowing us to understand how the biological and ecological traits of individual species influence large-scale patterns in diversity. The majority of macroecological studies to date have been centred on the terrestrial environment where large databases on species ranges, body size and associated environmental variables are readily available. Due to the inaccessibility of the deep sea, coupled with its relatively recent exploration, deep sea macroecology is the least represented within marine macroecology as a whole. Jellyfish, a significant constituent of the zooplankton, form important and often conspicuous components of marine ecosystems. Jellyfish studies covering large spatial scales are mostly focused on the shallow-water, bloom-forming species that have more apparent anthropogenic interactions, such as Aurelia aurita. The structural simplicity of jellyfish permits the rapid adaptation to changing environments. Plasticity in traits such as feeding, physiology, reproductive output, somatic growth and size are common; and as such allow populations to persist. The coronate medusae Periphylla periphylla Péron and Lesueur, 1810 and Atolla spp. are the most recognised deep-sea jellyfish, and both have cosmopolitan distributions. Little remains known about these genera beyond the early descriptions of the species, particularly relating to their macroecology and the expression of plastic traits according to varying environments. This study presents a large volume of morphological data using museum collections genera in order to better describe morphological variation on a global scale and to examine what factors might drive such variation.

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