Doliolid

Dolioletta gegenbauri

ORDER Doliolida

FAMILY Doliolidae

TAXONOMY

Dolioletta gegenbauri (Uljanin, 1884).

OTHER COMMON NAMES None known.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Barrel-shaped, clear, gelatinous body about 0.35 in (9 mm) in length with eight prominent muscle bands in the asexual stage and the 0.47-in (12-mm) sexual stage has nine muscle bands.

DISTRIBUTION

Semi-cosmopolitan in cool waters of both hemispheres. (Specific distribution map not available.)

HABITAT

Little is known about vertical distribution, but commonly found in oceanic surface waters.

BEHAVIOR

Known for their jumpy swimming pattern when disturbed. Swims by contracting muscle bands present in the gelatinous body.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Can feed on a wide variety of food particle sizes ranging from bacteria 0.0002 in (5 pm) to large diatoms >0.00394 in (>100 pm). Can be very important herbivores, completely clearing the waters they inhabit in about two days.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

The complicated lifecycle includes an asexual stage (sometimes called a nurse) during which a tail will grow. Many feeding stages bud on the tail, when released they grow a tail on which the sexual stage grows. The hermaphroditic sexual stage releases fertilized eggs that develop into tadpole larvae lacking the characteristic ascidiacean tail; the larvae quickly grows into the asexual nurse stage. Although complicated, the lifecycle helps do-liolids respond to blooms of phytoplankton, resulting in blooms of their own, reported to be hundreds of square miles (kilometers) in the open ocean.

CONSERVATION STATUS Not listed by the IUCN.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

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