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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 499:143-155 (2014)  -  DOI:

Spatial linkages between settling young-of-year and older juvenile lobsters

Victoria H. M. Burdett-Coutts1,*, Richard A. Wahle2, Paul V. R. Snelgrove1, Rémy Rochette3

1Biology Department and Ocean Sciences Centre, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, Newfoundland A1C 5S7, Canada
2School of Marine Sciences, University of Maine, Darling Marine Center, Walpole, Maine 04573, USA
3Biology Department, University of New Brunswick, Saint John, New Brunswick E2L 4L5, Canada
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: We examined spatial association between young-of-year (YoY) and older juvenile (Juv) American lobsters Homarus americanus across multiple spatial scales using 8 years (2001 to 2008) of field measurements of a long-term settlement index time series from New England, USA. Complementary laboratory experiments examined behavioural responses of settling postlarvae to conspecific presence. Regional scale (10s to 100s of kilometres) data aggregation showed significant association between YoY recruitment and Juv densities in the same year for all 8 years examined. These broad-scale positive associations support previous research showing the importance of circulation-driven patterns of larval supply in linking newly settled YoY and Juv lobsters. Analysis at the quadrat scale, however, showed greater than expected association between YoY and Juv, suggesting a behavioural component. Early benthic-phase Juv lobsters (~0 to 2 yr old) strongly associate with structurally complex habitats; however, little is known of other habitat quality variables that may enhance successful recruitment. Resident conspecifics may represent one of several habitat quality proxies for postlarval lobsters despite post-settlement risk in settling among conspecifics, such as competition and predation. In short-term (4 min) laboratory behavioural experiments, postlarvae spent significantly more time on the bottom in the presence of conspecific juveniles. In longer-term (24 h) experiments, postlarvae initially (<1 h), though not significantly, settled more rapidly in the presence of conspecific juveniles, and any weak effect dissipated with time. Lack of suitable habitat in experimental chambers may have inhibited a longer-term response. While conspecifics may initially attract postlarvae, settlement may require additional habitat cues.

KEY WORDS: Lobster · Postlarvae · Bottom-searching behaviour · Conspecific cues · Behaviour · Scaling · Recruitment

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Cite this article as: Burdett-Coutts VHM, Wahle RA, Snelgrove PVR, Rochette R (2014) Spatial linkages between settling young-of-year and older juvenile lobsters. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 499:143-155.

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