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Publication Title

Marine Ecology Progress Series






Clumps of highly-branched red algae Laurencia spp. serve as important settling habitat for postlarval spiny lobsters Panulirus argus and as residence for early benthic-stage juveniles. Given choice between the 2 most abundant macrophytes in Florida Bay, Laurencia spp. and the seagrass Thalassia testudinum, postlarval and juvenile lobsters chose Laurencia spp. Postlarvae apparently use intricate algal architecture as a cue for settlement, whereas juveniles use both architecture and food abundance in selecting habitat. In tethering experiments, predation on juvenile lobsters was very high on open sand, much reduced in algal clumps and seagrass, and lowest in dense algal meadows. Predation rates were similar day and night both on open sand and in vegetation. Most lobsters vacated algal clumps located within continuous algal meadows overnight, at a rate significantly higher than that from isolated algal clumps. We suggest that algal clump distribution, postlarval settling behavior, and juvenile interpatch movement and mortality contribute to the highly dispersed distribution and locally sparse abundances of early benthic juveniles.

Original Publication Citation

Herrnkind, W.F., & Butler IV, M.J. (1986). Factors regulating settlement and microhabitat use by spiny lobsters Panulirus argus. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 34, 23-30.