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Biological Journal of the Linnean Society








Resource allocation theory predicts a disproportionately large allocation of resources to defensive structures during early ontogeny in organisms that are subject to more intense predation at smaller than at larger body sizes. We tested this prediction on the Caribbean spiny lobster Panulirus argus, which exhibits a negative relationship between predation risk and body size with a high natural mortality of smaller individuals. Independent allometric growth analyses demonstrated that numerous defensive structures (e.g. orbital horns, segments supporting the antenna, the tail fan) display negative allometric growth throughout ontogeny. We interpret these findings as lobsters investing disproportionately more resources to defensive structures when small to improve survivorship. Similarly, we observed an ontogenetic shift in lobster colour pattern; small individuals (<23mm carapace length) that inhabit nursery grounds (preferably among red algae) displayed a disruptive pattern (camouflage), whereas larger juveniles displayed a bicolour pigmentation typical of adult lobsters. This shift in colour pattern further suggests that small lobsters employ cryptic coloration throughout their asocial algal stage. However, this cryptic coloration offers no advantage when lobsters grow larger and start dwelling in crevices. Other structures linked to reproduction (e.g. female pleopods and male pereopods) experienced either isometric or positive allometric growth throughout ontogeny. Our results support one of the main predictions of resource allocation theory and demonstrate ontogenetic shifts in defensive structures and coloration concomitantly with changes in lobster mortality risk mediated by size-dependent predation risk. © 2012 The Linnean Society of London


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Original Publication Citation

Anderson, J. R., Spadaro, A. J., Baeza, J. A., & Behringer, D. C. (2013). Ontogenetic shifts in resource allocation: Colour change and allometric growth of defensive and reproductive structures in the Caribbean spiny lobster Panulirus argus. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 108(1), 87-98. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8312.2012.01998.x


0000-0002-2573-6773 (Baeza)


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