Surviving but not thriving: Inconsistent responses of zooxanthellate jellyfish polyps to ocean warming and future UV-B scenarios

Shannon G. Klein*, Kylie A. Pitt, Anthony R. Carroll

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Complex changes to UV radiation at the Earth's surface are occurring concurrently with ocean warming. Despite few empirical tests, jellyfish are hypothesised to be increasing in some parts of the world because they are robust to environmental stressors. Here we examine the effects of UV-B and ocean warming projections on zooxanthellate jellyfish polyps. We exposed Cassiopea sp. polyps to three levels of UV-B (future-low (1.43 Wm 2), current (1.60 Wm 2), future-high (1.77 Wm 2)) and two levels of temperature (current-day (25 °C) and future (28 °C)) over 6 weeks. The intensity of UV-B was varied throughout the day to mimic diel variation in UV-B irradiance. Polyp survival, asexual reproduction and YII were measured. In the current and future-high UV-B treatments, more polyps were produced in 25 °C than 28 °C. This pattern, however, was reversed under future-low UV-B conditions, where more polyps were produced at 28 °C. YII was highest under current summer conditions and future conditions of low UV-B and increased temperature. YII, however, was reduced under high UV-B conditions but was further reduced with warming. Our results suggest that although Cassiopea polyps may survive elevated UV-B and warming conditions, they are unlikely to thrive. If, however, UV-B radiation decreases then ocean warming may facilitate increases in Cassiopea populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number28859
JournalScientific Reports
StatePublished - Jul 4 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
this study was provided by Griffith University and an Australian Post-graduate Award to S.K. We thank D. Tonzing for technical assistance and A. Willis for laboratory support. We also thank K. Wilson and A. Reno from Underwater World, Sunshine Coast for cultures of Cassiopea sp. polyps.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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