MEPS 436:191-205 (2011)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps09256

Habitat surrounding patch reefs influences the diet and nutrition of the western rock lobster

Lachlan D. MacArthur1,4,*, Donald L. Phillips2, Glenn A. Hyndes1, Christine E. Hanson1,5, Mathew A. Vanderklift3

1Centre for Marine Ecosystems Research, School of Natural Sciences, Edith Cowan University, 270 Joondalup Dr, Joondalup, Western Australia 6027, Australia
2US Environmental Protection Agency, National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, 200 SW 35th St., Corvallis, Oregon 97333, USA
3CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, Private Bag 5, Wembley, Western Australia 6913, Australia
4Present address: Sinclair Knight Merz, 11th Floor Durack Centre, 263 Adelaide Tce, Perth, Western Australia 6000, Australia
5Present address: School of Environmental Systems Engineering, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, Western Australia 6009, Australia

ABSTRACT: This study investigated the influence of the spatial arrangement of habitat patches on the diet and nutrition of a common reef-associated generalist consumer, the western rock lobster Panulirus cygnus. Stable isotopes (13C/12C and 15N/14N) and gut contents were used to assess diet and nutrition of lobsters collected from 8 shallow patch-reef sites on the lower west coast of ­Australia in April and October 2005. A distance-based linear model indicated that the predominant benthic habitat surrounding a reef (seagrass or macroalgae/sand-dominated) was an important source of ­variation in diet and nutrition, explaining significant (p < 0.01) variation in isotope signatures and gut contents of 52.7 and 7.0%, respectively. Mobile invertebrates, sessile filter feeders, coralline algae and seagrass were consumed by lobsters from all sites, but sessile filter feeders (sponges and colonial ascidians) were consumed in significantly greater volumes (p < 0.05) at macroalgae/sand-dominated sites (21.16 ± 3.0%) than at seagrass-dominated sites (≤6.1 ± 1.08%). A modified mass balance mixing model (IsoSource), which factored in C:N ratios of food sources and lobster-specific δ13C and δ15N discrimination values, was used to determine the contribution of food sources to lobster nutrition. Articulated coralline red algae were an important source, especially from sites dominated by macroalgae and sand contributing 22–72% to nutrition. Bait potentially contributes up to ~30% of lobster muscle nutrition and therefore may also play an important nutritional role for lobsters in areas where lobster potting occurs. Macroalgae, rather than seagrass, appears the most likely autochthonous energy source driving P. cygnus production in shallow coastal waters; however, seagrass plays an important role as habitat for lobster prey.


KEY WORDS: Stable isotope · Feeding · Landscape ecology · Seagrass · Mixing model · Panulirus cygnus


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Cite this article as: MacArthur LD, Phillips DL, Hyndes GA, Hanson CE, Vanderklift MA (2011) Habitat surrounding patch reefs influences the diet and nutrition of the western rock lobster. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 436:191-205. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps09256

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