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Systematics and Biogeography of the Jellyfish Aurelia labiata (Cnidaria: Scyphozoa)

Lisa-Ann Gershwin
Biological Bulletin
Vol. 201, No. 1 (Aug., 2001), pp. 104-119
DOI: 10.2307/1543531
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1543531
Page Count: 16
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Systematics and Biogeography of the Jellyfish Aurelia labiata (Cnidaria: Scyphozoa)
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Abstract

The hypothesis that the common eastern North Pacific Aurelia is A. aurita is falsified with morphological analysis. The name Aurelia labiata is resurrected, and the species is redescribed, to refer to medusae differing from A. aurita by a suite of characters related to a broad and elongated manubrium. Specifically, the oral arms are short, separated by and arising from the base of the fleshy manubrium, and the planulae are brooded upon the manubrium itself, rather than on the oral arms. Aurelia aurita possesses on corresponding enlarged structure. Furthermore, the number of radial canals is typically much greater in A. labiata, and thus the canals often appear more anastomosed than in A. aurita. Finally, most A. labiata medusae possess a 16-scalloped bell margin, whereas the margin is 8-scalloped in most A. aurita. Separation of the two forms has previously been noted on the basis of allozyme and isozyme analyses and on the histology of the neuromuscular system. Partial 18S rDNA sequencing corroborates these findings. Three distinct morphotypes of A. labiata, corresponding to separate marine bioprovinces, have been identified among 17 populations from San Diego, California, to Prince William Sound, Alaska. The long-undisputed species A. limbata may be simply a color morph of A. labiata, or a species within a yet-unelaborated A. labiata species complex. The first known introduction of Aurelia cf. aurita into southern California waters is documented. Although traditional jellyfish taxonomy tends to recognize many species as cosmopolitan or nearly so, these results indicate that coastal species, such as A. labiata, may experience rapid divergence among isolated populations, and that the taxonomy of such species should therefore be scrutinized with special care.

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