Post-settlement energy reserves in Panulirus Cygnus: experimental effects of starvation on survival and nutritional condition

A.J. Limbourn, R.C. Babcock, D.J. Johnston, P.D. Nichols, Brenton Knott

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    25 Citations (Scopus)


    Post-settlement survival success in rock (spiny) lobsters is likely to be influenced by the nutritional condition of the non-feeding pueruli at settlement. Consequently, we predict that survival shortly after settlement depends on food resources being replenished rapidly. In the present study the length of the starvation period on survival in post-puerulus juveniles of the western rock lobster Panulirus cygnus was investigated using laboratory experiments. All experimental pueruli were collected from Seven Mile Beach, Western Australia, using sandwich puerulus collectors. Total lipid, lipid class, fatty acid, total protein and total glycogen analyses were conducted on fed and starved post-puerulus juvenile lobsters, from moult into the first juvenile stage to 30 days post-moult. From a total of 165 samples used in this study, 15 post-puerulus juveniles were sampled initially and five post-puerulus juveniles sampled every 5 days thereafter for biochemical analysis. Post-puerulus juveniles survived up to 34 days of starvation. The maximal starvation time for post-puerulus juveniles from which recovery was observed is estimated to be in excess of 22 days. Lipids, in particular phospholipids, are shown to be the most important source of energy catabolised during the starvation period, with greater than 62% reduction in total lipid at day 30. Proteins were also catabolised during starvation, but to a much lesser extent than lipid, decreasing by 34% in total content at day 25. Carbohydrates were present always as a minor constituent, however their content did not change significantly during starvation. Our results suggest that the pueruli collected in December 2004 were generally in sufficiently good condition to survive further starvation after settlement; nutritional levels of the post-puerulus juveniles were enhanced compared to those observed in previous studies. We suggest that the high levels of energy reserves in rock lobster post-pueruli may provide an adaptive advantage to aid the transition from pelagic to benthic living by minimising stress and the consequences of failing to locate immediately suitable food resources.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)445-456
    JournalMarine Biology: international journal on life in oceans and coastal waters
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


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