New insights on the postlarvae supply into the Florida spiny lobster population

Presented by Iris Segura-García

Iris Segura-García, Mike Tringali, John Huny, Stephen Box

Larval transport and recruitment are fundamental ecological processes to understand population dynamics in marine species. For the Caribbean spiny lobster, Panulirus argus, this represents a real challenge because of their long pelagic larval duration (5-9 months), high natural mortality rates, in addition to difficulty in tracking the dispersal routes and estimating local recruitment. In Florida, the Caribbean spiny lobster represents one of the most valuable fisheries, in both the commercial trap fishery and the popular recreational dive fishery. Despite a great economical importance and that P. argus is a well-studied species our knowledge regarding dispersal distance and connectivity of geographically separated populations is still limited. In this study, spiny lobster postlarvae (PL), from the Florida Keys and adults from remote populations were genotyped using 14 microsatellite loci. We investigated the extent of genetic relatedness between PL recruits and adults lobsters by performing relatedness and parentage analyses. Our study provides the first genetic evidence suggesting that spiny lobster behave as clusters during their pelagic larval development until the final stages of the recruitment process, and revealed that the Florida lobster population recruits important number of PLs from Belize, Eastern Caribbean and Florida itself. Surprisingly and despite the geographic proximity the analysis did not show a large number of recruits from Bahamas. These results provide key information to improve spiny lobster fishery management and secure its sustainability.

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