The catchability of western rock lobsters (Panulirus cygnus) during the spawning season (October and November) may be affected by their reproductive state. In this study, movement and food consumption of males and females of different reproductive states held in laboratory tanks were measured as proxies for catchability. Density of lobsters was found to influence both movement and food consumption. Solitary animals and, to a lesser extent, two lobsters per tank, were more sedentary and consumed significantly less food than animals at a density of three or four specimens per tank. Tests using, three animals per tank confirmed that mature, unmated, and ovigerous females carrying early stage eggs moved more frequently away from their shelters than males or females carrying late stage eggs (P < 0.0001, d.f. = 3). Further, unmated females and females with early stage eggs recorded significantly higher food consumption (P < 0.0061, d.f. = 3) compared with males or females carrying late stage eggs. The greater time spent away from shelter and also food consumption make unmated females and females with early stage eggs likely to be more catchable than males or females with late stage eggs. As catchability is commonly used to obtain population estimates from survey data, these results have implications for surveys which use catch rates of breeding animals as indicators of egg production.
|Journal||New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research|
|Publication status||Published - 2005|