Marine Biology

, Volume 153, Issue 3, pp 445–456 | Cite as

Post-settlement energy reserves in Panulirus cygnus: experimental effects of starvation on survival and nutritional condition

  • A. J. LimbournEmail author
  • R. C. Babcock
  • D. J. Johnston
  • P. D. Nichols
  • B. Knott
Research Article


Post-settlement survival success in rock (spiny) lobsters is likely to be influenced by the nutritional condition of the non-feeding pueruli at settlement. Consequently, we predict that survival shortly after settlement depends on food resources being replenished rapidly. In the present study the length of the starvation period on survival in post-puerulus juveniles of the western rock lobster Panulirus cygnus was investigated using laboratory experiments. All experimental pueruli were collected from Seven Mile Beach, Western Australia, using sandwich puerulus collectors. Total lipid, lipid class, fatty acid, total protein and total glycogen analyses were conducted on fed and starved post-puerulus juvenile lobsters, from moult into the first juvenile stage to 30 days post-moult. From a total of 165 samples used in this study, 15 post-puerulus juveniles were sampled initially and five post-puerulus juveniles sampled every 5 days thereafter for biochemical analysis. Post-puerulus juveniles survived up to 34 days of starvation. The maximal starvation time for post-puerulus juveniles from which recovery was observed is estimated to be in excess of 22 days. Lipids, in particular phospholipids, are shown to be the most important source of energy catabolised during the starvation period, with greater than 62% reduction in total lipid at day 30. Proteins were also catabolised during starvation, but to a much lesser extent than lipid, decreasing by 34% in total content at day 25. Carbohydrates were present always as a minor constituent, however their content did not change significantly during starvation. Our results suggest that the pueruli collected in December 2004 were generally in sufficiently good condition to survive further starvation after settlement; nutritional levels of the post-puerulus juveniles were enhanced compared to those observed in previous studies. We suggest that the high levels of energy reserves in rock lobster post-pueruli may provide an adaptive advantage to aid the transition from pelagic to benthic living by minimising stress and the consequences of failing to locate immediately suitable food resources.


Polar Lipid Lipid Class Starvation Period Rock Lobster Major Lipid Class 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We greatly acknowledge the generous financial support provided by the Department of Animal Biology, UWA and CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research (Postgraduate Research Scholarship to A.L.). We also acknowledge the invaluable assistance provided by the Western Australian Fisheries Department, which generously provided numerous puerulus with which to conduct all experiments. We would also like to thank Danny Holdsworth, Matt Miller and Ben Mooney for technical support during running of the GC–MS and lipid and fatty acid analyses, and John Carragher and Michael Roberts for providing the glycogen extraction and assay protocol. Thanks to two anonymous referees for helpful comments on the manuscript. Experiments used in this study comply with the current laws of Australia.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. J. Limbourn
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • R. C. Babcock
    • 2
  • D. J. Johnston
    • 3
  • P. D. Nichols
    • 4
  • B. Knott
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Animal BiologyUniversity of Western AustraliaPerthAustralia
  2. 2.CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, Wealth from Oceans FlagshipPerthAustralia
  3. 3.Western Australian Fisheries and Marine Research LaboratoriesPerthAustralia
  4. 4.CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, Food Futures FlagshipHobartAustralia

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