Reproduction rates under variable food conditions and starvation in Mnemiopsis leidyi: significance for the invasion success of a ctenophore

Cornelia Jaspers, Lene Friis Møller, Thomas Kiørboe

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The ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi is characterized by high growth rates and a large reproductive capacity. However, reproductive dynamics are not yet well understood. Here, we present laboratory data on food-dependent egg production in M. leidyi and egg hatching time and success. Further, we report on the reproduction of laboratory-reared and field-caught animals during starvation. Our results show that the half-saturation zooplankton prey concentration for egg production is reached at food levels of 12–23 µgC L−1, which is below the average summer food concentration encountered in invaded areas of northern Europe. Furthermore, starved animals continue to produce eggs for up to 12 days after cessation of feeding with high overall hatching success of 65–90%. These life history traits allow M. leidyi to thrive and reproduce in environments with varying food conditions and give it a competitive advantage under unfavourable conditions. This may explain why recurrent population blooms are observed and sustained in localized areas in invaded northern Europe, where water exchange is limited and zooplankton food resources are quickly depleted by M. leidyi. We suggest that these reproductive life history traits are key to its invasion success
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Plankton Research
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)1011-1018
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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