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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 423:143-154 (2011)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps08957

Defensive strategies of European spiny lobster Palinurus elephas during predator attack

G. Buscaino1,*, F. Filiciotto1, M. Gristina2, G. Buffa1, A. Bellante1, V. Maccarrone1, B. Patti1, S. Mazzola1

1Istituto per l’Ambiente Marino Costiero U.O. S. di Capo Granitola—Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Via del Faro No. 3,
91021 Granitola, TP, Italy
2Istituto per l’Ambiente Marino Costiero U.O. S. di Mazara del Vallo—Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Via L. Vaccara no. 61, 91026 Mazara del Vallo, TP, Italy

ABSTRACT: The aim of the present work was to reveal the behaviour of the European spiny lobster Palinurus elephas (Fabricius, 1787) during encounters with predators. The study was conducted in a tank, exposing lobsters individually or in groups to a single specimen of the European conger eel or the common octopus. The behaviours of the lobsters, their sounds and the behaviours of the predators were recorded using a digital audio-video underwater acquisition system and analysed. A behavioural event not found in literature, dubbed ‘Alert’ by the authors, was described. The results showed that the most recurrent events were Alert, Point and Whip, which have the function of controlling the predator with the antennae, while maintaining the predator–prey distance. Moreover, a strong association between Tail Flip and Lunge (events that were stimulated in response to an imminent danger to life) with the sounds emitted by lobsters was observed. Significantly more sounds were emitted during the tests with single lobsters compared to grouped lobsters. As a result of the present study, the European conger eel may also be considered a potential natural predator of the European spiny lobster.


KEY WORDS: European spiny lobster · Behaviour · Antipredatory strategies · Common octopus · European conger eel


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Cite this article as: Buscaino G, Filiciotto F, Gristina M, Buffa G and others (2011) Defensive strategies of European spiny lobster Palinurus elephas during predator attack. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 423:143-154. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps08957

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