The recent dramatic decline in settlement in the population of the spiny lobster, Panulirus cygnus, may be due to changes in the oceanographic processes that operate offshore of Western Australia. It has been suggested that this decline could be related to poor nutritional condition of the post-larvae, especially lipid which is accumulated in large quantities during the preceding extensive pelagic larval stage. The current study focused on investigations into the lipid content and fatty acid (FA) profiles of lobster phyllosoma larvae from three mid to late stages of larval development (stages VI, VII, VIII) sampled from two cyclonic and two anticyclonic eddies of the Leeuwin Current off Western Australia. The results showed significant accumulation of lipid and energy storage FAs with larval development regardless of location of capture, however, larvae from cyclonic eddies had more lipid and FAs associated with energy storage than larvae from anticyclonic eddies. FA food chain markers from the larvae indicated significant differences in the food webs operating in the two types of eddy, with a higher level of FA markers for production from flagellates and a lower level from copepod grazing in cyclonic versus anticyclonic eddies. The results indicate that the microbial food web operating in cyclonic eddies provides better feeding conditions for lobster larvae despite anticyclonic eddies being generally more productive and containing greater abundances of zooplankton as potential prey for lobster larvae. Gelatinous zooplankton, such as siphonophores, may play an important role in cyclonic eddies by accumulating dispersed microbial nutrients and making them available as larger prey for phyllosoma. The markedly superior nutritional condition of lobster larvae feeding in the microbial food web found in cyclonic eddies, could greatly influence their subsequent settlement and recruitment to the coastal fishery. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.
Wang, M., O'Rorke, R., Waite, A., Beckley, L. E., Thompson, P. A. C., & Jeffs, A. G. (2014). Fatty acid profiles of phyllosoma larvae of western rock lobster (Panulirus cygnus) in cyclonic and anticyclonic eddies of the Leeuwin Current off Western Australia. Progress in Oceanography, 122, 153-162. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pocean.2014.01.003