Cannibalism is a major limitation to communally culturing the spiny lobster, (Panulirus ornatus), and although frequently reported in research it is yet to be thoroughly investigated. To support continued innovation in culture, we must understand the contribution of cannibalism to juvenile mortality and identify influencing factors. This was accomplished through 900 h of time-lapse photography of three populations of juvenile lobsters over 30 d, including all ecdysis and cannibalism events to inspect individual weight, tank biomass, moult-stage, sex, and injury, as possible contributing factors. Total mortality was over 50% and attributed to the attack and cannibalism of moulting lobsters. Between 20 and 25% of moulting events in (P. ornatus) resulted in cannibalism of the moulting lobster. Population control and biomass stabilisation appear to be consequences of cannibalism, determined by fluctuations in tank biomass. Additionally, the moult stage of killer cannibals may suggest a nutritional benefit for lobsters in the latter half of the moult cycle. An increase in the average locomotor activity within a population during the hour before cannibalism occurs indicates that the factors driving cannibalism are present up to an hour before a moult. Here we demonstrate the flaws of previous assumptions related to the type and frequency of cannibalism in cultured (P. ornatus) systems and highlight contributing factors which warrant further study. Building from this research we may identify drivers of cannibalism among juvenile (P. ornatus), with the aim of mitigating this behaviour in research and industry culture.
Research Hub Investigator(s)
Kelly, T.R., Giosio, D.R., Trotter, A.J., Smith, G.G. and Fitzgibbon, Q.P., 2023. Cannibalism in cultured juvenile lobster (Panulirus ornatus) and contributing biological factors. Aquaculture, p.739883, ISSN 0044-8486
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