Marine Biology

, Volume 158, Issue 7, pp 1645–1652 | Cite as

Effects of autotomy on long-term survival and growth of painted spiny lobster (Panulirus versicolor) on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia

  • Ashley J. FrischEmail author
  • Jean-Paul A. Hobbs
Original Paper


The effects of autotomy (shedding of appendages) on survival and growth rates of painted spiny lobster were investigated at Northwest Island (23° 18′ S, 152° 43′ E) during the period 2003–2006. Adult lobsters were captured, tagged, and classified as either uninjured (n = 68), minimally injured (n = 39) or moderately injured (n = 19) depending on the number and type of appendages that were autotomized during capture and handling. Six to thirty-six months after release, 86 lobsters were recaptured (mean time at large = 305 days). Recapture rates of uninjured (64.7%), minimally injured (71.8%), and moderately injured lobsters (73.7%) were not significantly different. Similarly, mean annualized growth rates of uninjured, minimally injured, and moderately injured lobsters were not significantly different. This suggests that the energetic cost of a single episode of autotomy is either negligible or exists as a trade-off with some other life history trait, such as reduced reproductive performance. These results support the use of certain management tools (e.g., size limits) that prescribe release of non-legal lobsters, regardless of their injury status.


Great Barrier Reef Single Episode Reef Crest Spiny Lobster Absolute Growth 
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.



Field assistance was provided by K. Munkres, R. Groom, N. Hardeman, J. Frisch and S. Frisch. J. Frisch showed us where to find Panulirus versicolor and kindly agreed not to hunt them for the duration of this study. J. Frisch provided useful comments on an earlier draft of the manuscript. Fieldwork was funded by a James Cook University Merit Research Grant awarded to A. Frisch. This research was conducted with permission from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (permit no. G04/12708.1), the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries (permit no. PRM05020B), and the James Cook University Animal Experimentation Ethics Review Committee (approval no. A927).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef StudiesJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia

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