Fine-scale movement, activity patterns and home-ranges of European lobster Homarus gammarus

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  2. Daniel Skerritt
  3. Dr Pete Robertson
  4. Dr Aileen Mill
  5. Professor Nick Polunin
  6. Dr Clare Fitzsimmons
Author(s)Skerritt DJ, Robertson PA, Mill AC, Polunin NVC, Fitzsimmons C
Publication type Article
JournalMarine Ecology Progress Series
ISSN (print)0171-8630
ISSN (electronic)1616-1599
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Understanding an animal’s movement, distribution and activity pattern is vital for effective delivery of evidence-based management, however, such data are sparse for many economically important fishery targets, particularly the European lobster Homarus gammarus. This study aimed to elucidate high-resolution movement and activity-patterns of a large cohort (n = 44; CL = 65 to 98mm) of adult European lobsters, using a passive fine-scale acoustic telemetry VEMCO Positioning System (VPS) off Northumberland (UK). This is the first application of VPS on this species and the first offshore VPS study within the UK, providing novel positional data generated via triangulation based on time difference of arrival of acoustic signals. Individual home-ranges using kernel density and minimum convex polygons showed seasonal variation: 95% utilisation distribution ranged from 244 to 7,722m2 during spring (EMBED Equation.DSMT410 = 11,104 ± 397m2s.e.), and declined to 237 to 784m2 during autumn (EMBED Equation.DSMT410 = 455 ± 66m2s.e.). The study also provides evidence of behavioural differences between sexes, with males using more space than females. Daily cumulative step-length and daily minimum convex polygons highlighted that while space-use decreased during the autumn, daily distance moved increased for the majority of lobsters observed, coupled with longer durations of deil activity during autumn. These results suggest that using home-range analyses alone to describe an animal’s movement may inadequately represent the full behaviour of the animal. This study demonstrates the potential for passive acoustic telemetry tracking of otherwise cryptic and difficult to study marine benthic animals.
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