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Size at maturity, fecundity and reproductive potential of a protected population of the spiny lobster Palinurus elephas (Fabricius, 1787) from the western Mediterranean
Goni, R.; Quetglas, A.; Renones, O. (2003). Size at maturity, fecundity and reproductive potential of a protected population of the spiny lobster Palinurus elephas (Fabricius, 1787) from the western Mediterranean. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 143(3): 583-592. hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s00227-003-1097-5
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keyword
    Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Goni, R.
  • Quetglas, A.
  • Renones, O.

Abstract
    Protected lobster populations are expected to contribute to the replenishment of fished populations through increased egg production. We studied the reproductive biology and egg production potential of a population of the spiny lobster Palinurus elephas protected from fishing since 1990 in the Columbretes Islands Marine Reserve (western Mediterranean). An index of spawning potential was derived to compare egg production potential in the Reserve and in western Mediterranean exploited populations. Females' physiological maturity (ability to reproduce) and functional maturity (ability to mate and bear eggs) occurred at a carapace length (CL) of 76–77 mm. Males' physiological maturity occurred at a slightly larger size, 82.5 mm CL. In the Reserve, P. elephas' individual fecundity increases linearly with body size up to the females' maximum size, although maximum reproductive yield (eggs per body gram) was reached at intermediate sizes. Size-specific fecundity in the protected population was similar to that of lightly fished populations off Ireland and greater than that of western Mediterranean exploited populations. The female size class of 105–110 mm CL contributed most to egg production in the protected population and is well above the minimum landing size (MLS) for western Mediterranean fisheries. Newly mature females (below MLS) generate a very small fraction (1%) of the egg production from the Reserve. Given the pattern of exploitation in western Mediterranean fisheries, egg production potential depends more on the quantity than on the mean size and fecundity of the available females. The role of the greater availability of large males for mating in unfished populations is discussed in terms of the females' individual fecundity and mating success.

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