"What we needed to find out was if the Irukandji would be able to establish their entire lifecycle south of their historical range in these expanded reaches of warm water or if adults only are able to drift south on the strengthened current," Shannon said.
As it turns out the role of ocean acidification in limiting reproduction may hold the key to protecting the SE Queensland coastline. But we may not be out of hot water just yet.
"This response may reduce the likelihood of Irukandji jellyfish establishing permanent populations in South East Queensland in the long term, however, it is possible that they could migrate farther south in the short term if acidification proceeds slowly and appropriate reproduction habitats are available.
"But even if juvenile populations remain confined to more northerly waters there is still the strengthening EAC which could carry adults south."
Irukandji jellyfish are represented by at least six species of cubozoan jellyfish which occur throughout the world's tropical zones, so the implications of this study are far reaching.
"Our results suggest that, if other Irukandji species behave similarly, range expansions could be occurring in other regions around the globe," Shannon said.
|Contact: Helen Wright|