Monitoring acoustically tagged king prawns Penaeus (Melicertus) plebejus in an estuarine lagoon
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Fine-scale movement patterns in penaeid prawns are rarely observed in situ, but are essential in understanding habitat use, foraging, and anti-predator behaviour. Acoustic telemetry was applied to examine the activity, space utilization, and habitat use of the eastern king prawn Penaeus (Melicertus) plebejus, at small temporal and spatial scales. Tracking of sub-adult P. plebejus (n = 9) in Wallagoot Lake (36.789°S, 149.959°E; 23 April–12 May 2009) and calculation of a minimum activity index (MAI) revealed high variation in activity rates across diel periods and in different habitats. Elevated activity rates and movement indicated foraging in unvegetated habitats during the night. Areas within the 95 and 50% space utilization contours averaged 2,654.1 ± 502.0 and 379.9 ± 103.9 m2, respectively, and there was a significant negative relationship between these areas and prawn activity rates in unvegetated habitats. This study provides the first estimates of prawn activity rates and space utilization in the field. Application of acoustic telemetry can increase knowledge of prawn movements and their interactions with other marine species in different habitats.
KeywordsActivity Rate Aquatic Macrophyte Carapace Length Space Utilization Moult Cycle
The authors wish to acknowledge A. Ferguson, E. Venstra, C. Setio and N. Henschke for assistance in field and laboratory work. The authors also wish to thank four anonymous reviewers for their extensive comments and advice, which helped shape the final version of this manuscript. This work was conducted using funding from an Australian Research Council Linkage Grant with the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries and Recreational Saltwater Fishing Trust (LP0775000). This paper is contribution 0019 of the Sydney Institute of Marine Science.
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