Salinity effects on survival and reproduction of hydrozoan Eleutheria dichotoma
Estuaries and Coasts, 43:2, 360–374 (2020)
Salinity conditions experienced by organisms in coastal regions may shape their life histories. Here, salinity’s impact on reproduction and survival of the hydrozoan Eleutheria dichotoma was investigated using laboratory-cultured individuals originating from Banyuls-sur-Mer (southern France) collected several decades ago. During the experiment (October 2014–July 2015), hydroid colonies and medusae were exposed to three salinities (25, 35, 45). Asexually budded medusae were collected from colonies and reared for three generations obtained by asexual budding of medusae. Salinities experienced by hydroid colonies had only minor effects on initial size, time to maturity, medusa budding, sexual production of planulae by medusae, and survival. In contrast, salinities experienced by medusae influenced their life histories. Compared with medium salinity (35), low-salinity medusae (25) had an earlier onset and higher rates of asexual budding, a later onset and slower rates of sexual reproduction, and higher mortality, which could result from allocation tradeoffs. The increased production of planulae by medusae in low salinity indicated that they were transitioning to a benthic polyp life form more resistant to environmental stress. High salinity (45) delayed asexual maturity, prevented sexual maturity in medusae, and led to lower survival and asexual reproduction rates. Budding rates decreased across the generations; however, planula production rates decreased in medium salinity but increased in low salinity. This might be explained by the accumulation of damage with each generation, and/or by internal rhythms. The flexible responses of this tractable model organism, Eleutheria dichotoma, to salinity change may be useful in future studies on changing estuarine conditions.