Marine Biology

, Volume 143, Issue 3, pp 583–592 | Cite as

Size at maturity, fecundity and reproductive potential of a protected population of the spiny lobster Palinurus elephas (Fabricius, 1787) from the western Mediterranean

  • R. GoñiEmail author
  • A. Quetglas
  • O. Reñones


Protected lobster populations are expected to contribute to the replenishment of fished populations through increased egg production. We studied the reproductive biology and egg production potential of a population of the spiny lobster Palinurus elephas protected from fishing since 1990 in the Columbretes Islands Marine Reserve (western Mediterranean). An index of spawning potential was derived to compare egg production potential in the Reserve and in western Mediterranean exploited populations. Females' physiological maturity (ability to reproduce) and functional maturity (ability to mate and bear eggs) occurred at a carapace length (CL) of 76–77 mm. Males' physiological maturity occurred at a slightly larger size, 82.5 mm CL. In the Reserve, P. elephas' individual fecundity increases linearly with body size up to the females' maximum size, although maximum reproductive yield (eggs per body gram) was reached at intermediate sizes. Size-specific fecundity in the protected population was similar to that of lightly fished populations off Ireland and greater than that of western Mediterranean exploited populations. The female size class of 105–110 mm CL contributed most to egg production in the protected population and is well above the minimum landing size (MLS) for western Mediterranean fisheries. Newly mature females (below MLS) generate a very small fraction (1%) of the egg production from the Reserve. Given the pattern of exploitation in western Mediterranean fisheries, egg production potential depends more on the quantity than on the mean size and fecundity of the available females. The role of the greater availability of large males for mating in unfished populations is discussed in terms of the females' individual fecundity and mating success.


Carapace Length Physiological Maturity Spiny Lobster Functional Maturity Gonad Index 
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 owe thanks to Javier Mas and Ana Massanet for their assistance with egg counting and processing, to Cruz Iglesias for editorial help and to the personnel of the Columbretes Islands Marine Reserve and the skippers of the collaborative fishing vessels for their help throughout the study. The Secretaría General de Pesca, Dirección General del Caladero Nacional, promoted and funded this work with a grant awarded to the Instituto Español de Oceanografía for the LANGOSTA project (1998–2002).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centro Oceanográfico de Baleares Palma de MallorcaSpain

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