Aequorea victoria resides in a very expansive and diverse habitat ranging from Alaska to central California mostly in cooler water (Crystal Jelly, 2013).  It is most commonly found in the Washington state and British Columbia areas that have water temperatures varying seasonally from about 45°C-55°C (Crystal Jelly, 2013).  One area of particularly high Aequorea victoria concentration is in Puget Sound.  Interestingly the relative amount of jellyfish is not homogenous in this area (Rice et al., 2011).  In a study of the distribution of fish (click here for one of the fish studied) and jellyfish among 4 basins in Puget Sound, jellyfish (Aequorea victoria) were found to be dominant in the 2 southern basins whereas fish were dominant in the northern basins (Rice et al., 2011).  According to Casimir Rice and his fellow researchers, this difference in distribution is most likely due to the sensitivity of the fish to environmental factors (Rice et al., 2011).  While the researchers were not able to draw any concrete conclusions about the jellyfish demographics, there are many possible factors that could influence the Aequorea victoria population.  For example, with a lack of predation and with an ample food supply, it would be conceivable for the population of jellyfish to grow to the carrying capacity of the ecosystem.  This is just one possible factor that may have contributed to the fish and jellyfish population differences between the basins of Puget Sound.  However, this study may have implications on the larger scale of the ability of Aequorea victoria to occupy a niche when environmental conditions are not conducive to growth of fish and other competitor and predator populations.

 The Puget Sound study is one example of how Aequorea victoria is able to thrive in varied conditions.  However, adaptability may have lead to misclassification within the genus Aequorea because of its large habitat range (Mills, 2009).  Due to this uncertainty, the habitat of Aequorea victoria may not be the full range of the west coast.  However, research to sort Aequorea species into the correct taxa is being conducted by invertebrate biologists such as Dr. Paulyn Cartwright and her team who have proposed a phylogeny for the relationship of Aequorea and other hydrozoans (click here for Cartwright's phylogeny).

Throughout these diverse climates, Aequorea victoria utilizes its habitat in similar ways.  Populations of Aequorea victoria travel in streamCourtesy of Wikipedias within the ocean close to shore (Shimomura, 1995).  This behavior made it easier for Dr. Osamu Shimomura to collect Aequorea victoria specimens for his GFP research.  Dr. Shimomura was able to capture specimens relatively easily from the pier at Friday Harbor, WA due to the organisms close proximity to shore (Shimomura, 1995).  Without being able to easily acquire samples, it may have taken Dr. Shimomura and other GFP researchers much longer to identify GFP.  Consequently, todays GFP research may not have progressed as far as it has (click here for link to GFP organisms).

Despite Aequorea victoria being a seemingly hearty animal, populations are dwindling in areas that were previously highly populated, such as the coast of Washington state near Friday Harbor (Mills, 2009).  For unknown reasons, populations of Aequorea victoria in this area have declined.  This area was also the site of Dr. Frank Johnson and Dr. Osamu Shimomura’s Aequorea victoria sample collection for their GFP research due to the abundance of Aequorea victoria during their collection period.  Although Johnson and Shimomura collected thousands of samples of Aequorea victoria over many summers from this area, the recent Aequorea victoria population decline was not caused by Johnson and Shimomura’s sample collection according to Dr. Claudia E. Mills (Mills, 2009).  This makes sense due to the dimophic cycle of Aequorea victoria (click here for Aequorea victoria life cycle) because as long as enough organisms are allowed to reproduce, collecting the adult medusa should have no adversCourtesy of Wikipedia: Sierra Blakelye effect on the next generation.  What is known is that marine biomes around the world are changing due to human factors such as shipping lanes, shorefront building, water contamination, and massive floating collections of garbage to name just a few.  Although at this time there is no known cause for their disappearance from the Friday Harbor area, when taking a macroscopic view of the issue of population decline, human impact has been a contributer in other biomes.  Therefore, it may be worth studying what human factors are impacting the habitat of Aequorea victoria and if these factors are contributing to population decline.

Of course habitat and enviornmental factors are quite important to consider when studying an organism, but there are other important factors too such as form and function.  Click the Form & Function button below for information about how this factor relates to the study of Aequorea victoria.

Form & FunctionHome