Population Dynamics of Juvenile Carmbean Spiny Lobster, Panulirus Argus, in Florida Bay, Florida
Despite a wealth of information on the growth and population dynamics of sub-adult and adult Caribbean spiny lobsters (Panulirus argus), there is far less information about younger juveniles under natural conditions. Here we describe growth and population dynamics of juvenile spiny lobsters (12–68 mm carapace length, CL) that we have studied for 14 months (October 1988–December 1989) using mark-recapture techniques in a hardbottom community in Florida Bay, Florida. We also monitored the supply of postlarvae into the region in 1988 and 1989 using Witham-type surface collectors in an effort to link peak periods of settlement of postlarvae with subsequent cohorts of juveniles. Field estimates of growth were the highest ever reported for this species, averaging 0.95 mm CL·wk−1 (range: 0.35–1.25 mm CL·wk−1 for individuals 20–25 mm CL and 40–45 mm CL, respectively). These results indicate that lobsters in some areas in Florida Bay can reach Florida's legal harvestable size (76 mm CL) 1.5 years after settlement. Season and lobster size had significant effects on growth rates; slower growth occurred during the winter and among small individuals. Differences in growth among size classes resulted from changes in molt increment, whereas seasonal differences were a result of changes in intermolt interval. Using mark-recapture techniques, we estimate that the density of juvenile spiny lobsters <45 mm CL in this prime nursery habitat was 454·ha−1, that the mean monthly probability of survival (reflecting actual mortality plus emigration) was 0.51, and that an average of 131 lobsters entered the population through recruitment and immigration each month. Recruitment of juveniles was significantly correlated (r = 0.83) with the supply of postlarvae to the region 8 months earlier. This relationship is stronger than was previously believed, and may only be manifested in areas with superior nursery habitat.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 1994-05-01
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