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Impact of wind stress anomalies on the seasonal pattern of southern rock lobster (Jasus edwardsii) settlement in South Australia

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Quantified estimates of southern rock lobster (Jasus edwardii) puerulus settlement have been undertaken in the Southern Zone fishery of South Australia since the early 1990s. An analysis of mean monthly puerulus settlement indices from 1995 to 2007 in three monitoring sites revealed a strong seasonal correlation (r > 0.94 between sites) in settlement patterns. Settlement was highest during the winter months of June, July and August with peak settlement in all sites occurring in July. A reduced secondary settlement occurred during February and March. Seasonal trends were correlated with monthly wind stress and direction data in order to investigate possible environmental drivers of settlement. Using monthly averages of wind stress, it was hypothesized that strong along-shore wind-stress anomalies (ASWSA) prior to peak settlement would influence puerulus indices. Maximum ASWSA over the December–May period prior to maximum settlement was therefore examined. The results showed significant correlations (P < 0.1, r = 0.51–0.90) between wind stress and puerulus settlement in all but one site. We suggest that storm events, in combination with onshore surface drift during the period of settlement, are the principal physical oceanographic mechanisms influencing settlement patterns within the Southern Zone rock lobster fishery of South Australia.

Keywords: Jasus edwardsii; puerulus; seasonal settlement; southern rock lobster; surface drift; wind stress

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), PO Box 120, Henley Beach, South Australia 5022, Australia

Publication date: July 1, 2010

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