Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
College of Science and Mathematics
Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair
Anthropogenic activities are dispersing organisms at higher rates and this dispersal leads to organisms having a higher chance at becoming invasive. The Clinging Jellyfish, Gonionemus vertens, was originally from the north Pacific Ocean, but was identified in New Jersey’s coastal waters in 2016. G. vertens undergo a complex life history with an asexual polyp stage and the sexual medusa stage. Little is known about their polyp stage, which shows multiple asexual reproductive strategies that can generate high densities of medusa. Asexual reproduction of polyps was observed in 2020 to assess the rate of clonal production. Cultured polyps can have several modes of asexual reproduction including frustule production, binary fission, and budding. While frustules are a key part of asexual reproduction for this species, this is the first-time binary fission and budding were observed for G. vertens.
Correlations were observed between various growth stages over time, including 1) developing polyps growing to mature polyps within a week, 2) polyps generating frustule buds and the number of frustules the following week, and 3) the number of frustules produced leading to developing polyps one week later. These results indicate that clonal growth is occurring at a predictable rate, with polyp density estimates of >24,000/m2 of surface area. This rate of production could account for the incredible numbers of medusa produced each spring in the field, but is contradictory to the lack of identification of polyp stages from field collections. There are still many questions that need to be answered about G. vertens polyps such as where exactly the polyps are located within the environment and the abiotic/biotic factors that influence their growth. This experiment helps to bring forth more data about the species, so that we can better understand how it’s able to successfully invade foreign ecosystems.
Booker, Valin Jarred, "Assessment of the Asexual Reproductive Strategies of the Invasive Clinging Jellyfish Gonionemus vertens" (2022). Theses, Dissertations and Culminating Projects. 1015.