Information about Aeolidia papillosa

October 30, 2002
From: Moria Eggers

I am a student at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. I am doing a literature based project for my marine biology class and I have chosen to look at Aeolidia papillosa. I was curious to know population numbers and predators of this species in the Puget Sound area. My question is what is limiting the population sizes of the nudibranch Aeolidia papillosa?
Moria Eggers

Eggers, M., 2002 (Oct 30) Information about Aeolidia papillosa. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Dear Moira,
If you look at the Fact Sheet on this species you will find a link to a page of relevant references on aspects of its natural history and ecology.

One problem with questions such as 'what is limiting the population size' is that they make assumptions so you can discuss ecological theory which is based on an 'ideal world'. The first question you need to ask is whether the population size of Aeolidia papillosa is being limited at all, and if so is it just being limited in one place or at one point in time. Which brings up the question about how you define a 'population' in a marine animal which may lead its adult life in one place bbut has arisen from larvae which have come from somewhere else. All very difficult. When you have marine animals, with planktonic larval stages, the size of the benthic population at one place is often dependent on the reproductive success of a benthic population at some other place, and the ability of the resulting larvae to survive in the plankton and finally settle. So the nice feedback mechanisms built into ecological theory which relate population size to fecundity and health of the breeding population break down, because even the most healthy and satiated population can crash if there is no larval settlement.
Good luck with your report,
Best wishes,
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2002 (Oct 30). Comment on Information about Aeolidia papillosa by Moria Eggers. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from


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