The Relationship between Seasonal Migrations of Berried Female Lobster Homarus americanus, Egg Development and Larval Survival
|Winsor Watson||UNH - Department of Biological Sciences||Principal Investigator|
|Edward Heaphy||Boat Captain||Collaborator|
|David Shay||Boat Captain||Collaborator|
|Michael Flanigan||Boat Captain||Collaborator|
|Edward Foye||Boat Captain||Collaborator|
|Mark Regoulinsky||Boat Captain||Collaborator|
|Gary Glidden||Boat Captain||Collaborator|
|Jason Goldstein||UNH - Department of Biological Sciences|
|Tom Langley||UNH - Department of Biological Sciences|
|Arthur Lambert||University of New Hampshire|
|Josh Brown||University of New Hampshire|
|Joy Stronk||University of New Hampshire|
|May Grose||University of New Hampshire|
|Lisa Harvey||University of New Hampshire|
|Elizabeth Dubofsky||UNH - Department of Biological Sciences|
The work outlined in this proposal is designed to provide detailed information about the fine-scale seasonal movements of berried female American lobsters (Homarus americanus), the relationship between these movements and specific habitats, depths and water temperatures, and ultimately the influence of these movements on the number of viable larvae that hatch from their eggs. These data will provide the first detailed, year-round view of the reproductive life history strategy of berried female lobsters. As a result, this study will provide vital information about the sources of new recruits to the fishery and the interactions between lobster stocks.
Our overall goal is to quantify seasonal changes in the daily activity patterns and habitat preferences of berried female lobsters and determine if these movements influence the quality and quantity of the new recruits they produce. This goal will be achieved by completing the following specific objectives:
1) Quantify the daily movements and long-term migration patterns of 10 berried lobsters and 10 control (not berried) female lobsters for an entire year, during each year of the two-year study.
2) Determine if there are predictable seasonal shifts in the behavior and habitat preferences of small vs. large berried females, and berried females in comparison to control lobsters.
3) Raise eggs and larvae under different thermal regimes in the laboratory to test the hypothesis that female movements that lead to smaller fluctuations in temperature result in better larval survivorship and thus improved reproductive success.
This investigation will involve both laboratory and field studies. In the field, control and berried lobsters will be tracked continuously for a period of at least 10 months using a combination of three different types of ultrasonic telemetry systems: a fixed array (VEMCO VRAP) system to determine fine-scale details, manual tracking to determine large-scale movements, and listening stations to facilitate tracking of large-scale movements during certain times of the year. In the laboratory, berried lobsters will be held under thermal regimes designed to mimic the temperatures they would experience during the time when they were incubating their eggs in nearshore and offshore location. The influence of these two thermal regimes, as well as constant temperatures, on egg development and larval survival will be assessed to determine if the seasonal movements of berried lobsters serve to optimize reproduction.
This study will provide answers to several long-standing questions about the life history strategies of berried female lobsters. It will be the first to determine if the movements of females have an impact on their reproductive output and thus the preservation of the species. Our data will also help identify:
1) Habitats where berried females aggregate so that lobstermen can avoid these locations
2) Areas where berried females release their larvae, making it possible to model the fate of larvae, identify the source of recruits and determine which populations or stocks overlap.
Model Developed to Predict Hatching of Lobster Eggs
Economic and societal benefits
Many of the undergraduates have gone on to successful jobs, or professional schools, following their experiences working on this project. We continue to interact with many of the commercial lobstermen and provide them with updates about the project.
Available from the National Sea Grant Library (use NHU number to search) or NH Sea Grant
- Johnson, K., J. Goldstein and W. Watson. Two methods for determining the fertility status of early-stage American lobster, Homarus americanus, eggs. Journal of Crustacean Biology 31(4):693-700, October 2011.
- Goldstein, J., T. Pugh, E. Dubofsky, K. Lavalli, M. Clancy and W. Watson (2014). A noninvasive method for in situ determination of mating success in female American lobsters ("Homarus americanus"). Journal of Visualized Experiments 84:e50498, February 2014.
- Goldstein, J. and W. Watson (2015). Seasonal movements of American lobsters in southern Gulf of Maine coastal waters: patterns, environmental triggers, and implications for larval release. Marine Ecology Progress Series 524:197-211, 2015.
- Goldstein, J. and W. Watson (2015). Influence of natural inshore and offshore thermal regimes on egg development and time of hatch in American lobsters, Homarus americanus. Biological Bulletin 228(1):1-12, February 2015.
- Goldstein, J. (2012). The impact of seasonal movements by ovigerous American lobsters ("Homarus americanus") on egg development and larval release. Doctoral Dissertation, University of New Hampshire.