SS4.04 The Relevance of Gelatinous Zooplankton to Interdisciplinary Linkages
Date: Friday, June 14, 2002
Time: 9:30:00 AM
Location: Saanich
 
Sullivan , B, K, University of Rhode Island Island, Narragansett, USA, bsullivan@gso.uri.edu
Costello, J, H, Providence College, Providence, USA, costello@sequent1.providence.edu
Allen, A, H, University of Rhode Island, Narragansett, USA, aallen@gso.uri.edu
Rakow, K, , New England Aquarium, Boston, USA, krakow@neaq.org
GiffordDJ, University of Rhode Island, Narragansett, USA, dgifford@gso.uri.edu
Mianzan, H, , CONICET, Mar del Plata, Argentina, hermes@inidep.edu.ar
 
Range expansion of the ctenophore Mnemiopsis: Do morphological and behavioral plasticity play a role in success in new and diverse habitats?
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Mnemiopsis is a cosmopolitan genus of comb jellies whose distribution spans the Atlantic seaboard of North and South America. It also has a recent history of introduction and explosive, damaging population growth in exotic habitats such as the Black Sea. Identities of the species in the genus are uncertain because of apparent morphological plasticity. Recent,and still ongoing, studies examining genetics have failed so far to find differences indicative of significant variation. We confirm reports of Mnemiopsis in Boston Harbor, MA, north of its previously described range for which the northern limit was Cape Cod, MA, and present evidence of consistent variation in morphology between populations north and south of Cape Cod. Individuals from Argentina also exhibit morphological and behavioral differences from those in the northern populations. These differences involve alterations in feeding structures and feeding postures that could allow adaptation to feeding in low versus high food environments. The plasticity we describe may allow Mnemiopsis to succeed in environments with a wide range of physical and biological characteristics, and may explain why the genus successfully invades exotic habitats.