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Interrelations among rock lobsters, sea urchins and juvenile abalone: implications for community management
Mayfield, S.; Branch, G.M. (2000). Interrelations among rock lobsters, sea urchins and juvenile abalone: implications for community management. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 57(11): 2175-2185
In: Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences = Journal canadien des sciences halieutiques et aquatiques. National Research Council Canada: Ottawa. ISSN 0706-652X, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Mayfield, S.
  • Branch, G.M.

    Field and laboratory experiments demonstrate that juveniles of South African abalone (Haliotis midae) depend vitally on the protection from predation that they gain from living concealed beneath Cape urchins (Parechinus angulosus). Recent reports suggest that rock lobsters (Jasus lalandii) have increased substantially in the region where the commercial abalone fishery is centered. This increase has been blamed for a recorded collapse of urchin populations and dramatic reductions in the numbers of juvenile abalone. We verified the substantial increase in rock lobster abundance there. Surveys covering 200 km of coastline showed that densities of urchins were negatively correlated with those of large lobsters (>68 mm carapace length) and that densities of juvenile abalone were positively correlated with those of urchins. The indirect negative effects of rock lobsters on juvenile abalone clearly pose a major threat to the abalone industry, already under stress from poaching. Quantification of the relationship between juvenile abalone and urchins and between urchins and rock lobsters allows a forecast of the magnitude of lobster harvesting necessary to reduce them to a level at which urchins may recover and sustain juvenile abalone. The complex interactions involved emphasize the importance of an ecosystem approach for the management of these stocks.

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