Evolution of reproductive strategies in jellyfish

Honorable mention by the American Naturalist for our paper on evolution of reproductive strategies in jellyfish

Friday 01 Mar 19


Patrizio Mariani
Senior Researcher
DTU Aqua
+45 35 88 33 53

Jellyfish are weird creatures that can reproduce in different modes both sexually and asexually. Similar functional strategies are also present in several other species for both terrestrial and aquatic organisms. However, mechanisms leading to the evolution of this rich reproductive diversity are yet to be clarified. We have developed a game theoretical model based on bet-hedging concept to describe how some of these different reproductive modes can evolve in different environments.

Our model shows that evolution can lead to a unique evolutionarily stable strategy, wherein multiple reproductive modes generally coexist. As the extinction risk increases (e.g. presence of predators, extreme thermal conditions, substrate disturbance, etc.), this strategy shifts from a pure single mode to a dual strategy and finally to one characterized by allocation into all three modes. This has implications beyond jellyfish ecology as the prediction of mixed reproductive modes is consistent with the ecology of different species of plants, invertebrates, and vertebrates.

Results are published in The American Naturalist and the paper has now been chosen for an Honorable Mention in the 2018 Student Paper Award by the journal. The journal Editors, Alice Winn, Russell Bonduriansky, and Dan Bolnick spent the last few months examining over 70 papers in the Naturalist by student authors. This was considered a challenging task given the many excellent, and very diverse, papers published in the journal. The Editorial group specifically acknowledge that the paper "impressed us all with its depth and clarity, and is one of two papers that we felt required specific mention as runners-up in the award.” Congratulations to Nicolas and his co-authors!

The paper can be read here

Schnedler-Meyer N.A., Pigolotti S., Mariani P. (2018) Evolution of complex asexual reproductive strategies in jellyfish The American Naturalist https://doi.org/10.1086/697538

Contact Nicolas Azaña Schnedler-Meyer: nasm@bios.au.dk

21 MAY 2022