Marine Biology

, Volume 54, Issue 2, pp 109–124 | Cite as

Diurnal migration and vertical distribution of phyllosoma larvae of the western rock lobster Panulirus cygnus

  • D. W. Rimmer
  • B. F. Phillips


Studies off the west coast of Australia showed that the phyllosoma larvae of Panulirus cygnus George undergo a diurnal vertical migration, with light as an important factor influencing the depth distribution of all 9 phyllosoma stages. The early stages (I to III) occurred at the surface at night regardless of moonlight intensity, whereas late stages (VI to IX) concentrated at the surface only on nights with less than 5% of full moonlight. Midday peak densities of early-stage larvae occurred in the 30 to 60 m depth range while those of mid (IV to VI) and late stages were in the 50 to 120 m range. Depths of peak densities of larvae increased with distance offshore. The limits of vertical distribution of the phyllosoma remained within ranges of illuminance which were estimated to be in the order of 50 to 250 μE m-2 sec-1 for early stages, 20 to 200 μE m-2 sec-1 for mid stages and 5 to 50 μE m-2 sec-1 for late stages. Minimal rates of net vertical movement were estimated for the larvae. Early stages exhibited mean net rates of ascent and descent of 13.7 and 13.0 m h-1, respectively, while the rates for mid stages were 16.0 and 16.6 m h-1 and for late stages 19.4 and 20.1 m h-1. Diurnal migrations and vertical distribution are shown to have a vital role in the relationships between circulation in the south-eastern Indian Ocean and the transport and dispersal of the phyllosoma larvae. The diurnal migrations of early stages place them at the surface at night, when offshore vectors of wind-driven ocean-surface transport dominate, and below the depth of wind-induced transport during the day, when offshore vectors are small or negative, thus accounting for their offshore displacement. Mid and late stages, because of their deeper daytime distribution and absence from the surface on moonlight nights, are predominantly subject to circulation features underlying the immediate surface layer. This is hypothesized to account for the return of the phyllosoma to areas near the continental shelf edge by subjecting them to a coastward mass transport of water which underlies the immediate surface layer.


Vertical Distribution Continental Shelf Peak Density Shelf Edge Rock Lobster 
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.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. W. Rimmer
  • B. F. Phillips

There are no affiliations available

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