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BenthicDispersalof CaribbeanSpinyLobstersamong InsularHabitats:Implicationsfor theConservationof

Summary: BenthicDispersalof CaribbeanSpinyLobstersamong
InsularHabitats:Implicationsfor theConservationof
Wildlife ConservationSociety,Glover's Reef Marine ResearchStation,P.O. Box 23lO,Belize Ciry, Belize
Abstract Understanding hou populations of target speciesinteract witb tbeir habitats is necessaryfr.tr deuel-
oping an effectiue conseruation stratetgl. During its complex life bistory, tbe Caribbean spiny lobster
(Panulirus argus) zses a uariety of bentbic marine babitats, but bout babitat cbaracteristics affect tbeir dis-
persal is unclear. To assesslrou babitat insularity affects the bentbic dispersal of spiny lobsters, I cornpared
lobster abundance, size class structure, and migration among insular ma.ngroue and cctral reef babitats tbat
raere surrounded by bare rubble fields or by seagrass meadous. Lobsters uere significantly more abundant
on mangroae and coral islands surcounded by seagrass. Tbe size-classdistributions of lobsters in tbese habi-
tats bad bigber proportions of juueniles, ubereas islands surrounded by sand and rubble bad skeuted clistri-
butions dominated b1 adult lobsters. Seagrass is knoun to serue as settlement babttatfor larual recruits and
is likely associated tttitb tbe bigber abunclances of ktbsters found in seagrass-isolated habitats. Immigration
and emig,ration rates utere tbree to four times bigber on seagrass-isolated islands tban on rubble-isolttted is-
lands, reflected in the significantly greater number of juueniles mouing into and from seagrass-isoletted is-
lands. Rubblefields appeared tofunction as a barrier to benthic dispersalfor all lobsters except adults. Vege-
tated substrates may function as mouement corridors for juuenile lobsters and may facilitette dispersal kt
areas containing neut resources. Tbe effects of insularity on a population may be lessened by the nature of


Source: Acosta, Charles A. - Department of Biological Sciences, Northern Kentucky University


Collections: Environmental Sciences and Ecology