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The Ecology of the juvenile southern rock lobster, Jasus edwardsii (Hutton 1875) (Palinuridae).

Edmunds, M 1995 , 'The Ecology of the juvenile southern rock lobster, Jasus edwardsii (Hutton 1875) (Palinuridae).', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania,.

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This study examined the life history of juvenile Jasus edwardsii, with a particular emphasis
on ontogenetic shifts in ecology, and how these shifts and other ecological factors may
influence recruitment rates to maturity and the fishery. The aspects examined included
settlement, density and distribution, shelter utilisation and availability, diet, morphology, as
well as growth, survival and movement.
Shifts in ecology, particularly in dispersion pattems, shelter utilisation and diet were found
throughout the juvenile size range. However, a distinct early benthic phase was recognised,
with a rapid transition from this phase occurring at approximately 35 mm carapace length
(CL). More gradual shifts in ecology occurred after this size. Early benthic phase lobsters
were solitary dwellers, randomly to evenly dispersed over the reef and consumed
predominantly ophiuroids, isopods and bivalves. In contrast, larger juveniles were
gregarious, cohabiting in shelters with conspecifics and having clumped shelter
distributions. They also consumed predominantly bivalves, crabs and urchins. These
changes corresponded with allometric changes in morphology.
Early benthic lobsters had specific shelter requirements compared to the broader range of
shelters used by larger lobsters, and were more likely to be affected by limitations in shelter
availability. Shelter availability was dependent on the substrate type and structure, but was
not found to be limiting during this study. However, settlement rates during this study were
low, and shelter may be limiting at higher settlement rates.
Intemal microtagging techniques were developed to examine the population dynamics of
newly settled lobsters (from 10 mm CL or 0.6 g). The growth of microtagged lobsters
released in the wild was seasonal, ranging from a mean of 2.5 mm CL per month in
summer to a mean of 1.1 mm CL per month in the winter. The loss rates of tagged lobsters
from the study area, due to mortality and emigration, were high and varied between release
batches, the probability of survival ranging from a maximum of 51% to less than 1%.
Lobsters remaining in the study area had a high fidelity to particular shelters.
The results of this study suggest that the early benthic phase is a critical phase in
determining recruitment rates to maturity and the fishery, particularly due to the influences
of specific shelter requirements, increased susceptibility to predation and variations in
growth and survival.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Edmunds, M
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Copyright 1995 the Author

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