Behavioral enhancement of onshore transport by postlarval Caribbean spiny lobster (Panulirus argus)

Goldstein, Jason S., Mark J. Butler IV

Limnol. Oceanogr., 54(5), 2009, 1669-1678 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2009.54.5.1669

ABSTRACT: We conducted a series of laboratory experiments to examine the orientation, settlement, and metamorphosis of Caribbean spiny lobster (Panulirus argus) pueruli (postlarvae) in response to cues characteristic of their nursery in back-reef tropical lagoons. Our results suggest that pueruli were attracted to coastal water sources and the metabolites of red macroalgae (Laurencia spp.) when compared with oceanic water and artificial seawater treatments. Pueruli were not attracted to waterborne cues from sea grass, were repelled by hypersaline or hyposaline water, and discerned coastal cues from water collected as far as 30 km offshore from the reef. We also conducted experiments to examine the settlement behavior of pueruli in response to different substrates and hydrostatic pressures. Pueruli only settled at pressures equivalent to depths <5 m, which is where most settlement occurs in the field; settlement behavior was further enhanced by the presence of red macroalgae. Coastal water or artificial seawater containing red macroalgae metabolites hastened puerulus development and molting to the benthic juvenile stage by 20-30% compared with those exposed to artificial seawater. Collectively, our results demonstrate that spiny lobster pueruli use chemical and pressure cues during onshore transport and selection of settlement habitat, highlighting the important role of behavioral responses to physical cues in the recruitment of this species.

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