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Habitat Shifts by Decapods—an Example of Connectivity Across Tropical Coastal Ecosystems

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Ecological Connectivity among Tropical Coastal Ecosystems

Abstract

Decapod life cycles are complex and many utilize a range of habitats throughout their development. Many species tend to settle on shallow (often vegetated) inshore habitats and commonly move offshore into deeper water as they grow. The species that exhibit an inshore/offshore life history are often large individuals and may support commercial fisheries. In this chapter the habitats of a range of tropical decapods are described and likely mechanisms underlying habitat shifts are discussed. It is generally accepted that in most animals these mechanisms are aligned with maximizing the animal’s fitness. Possible mechanisms include minimizing mortality risk (μ), maximizing absolute growth rates (g), or a trade-off in which the animal chooses the habitat that minimizes the ratio of mortality risk to growth rate (minimize μ/g). There do not appear to be any studies that address these issues for tropical decapods and this is identified as an important topic for future research. Similarly, studies that have explicitly demonstrated habitat shifts in tropical decapods are rare; most shifts have been implied by comparing length frequencies in different habitats and it is recommended that future studies consider the use of natural and artificial tags to assist in more accurate characterization of connectivity between coastal habitats.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    The subgenera of Penaeus were elevated to genera by Pérez-Farfante and Kensley (1997). However, as there is some controversy over this revision we have chosen to use the old names in this paper (Lavery et al. 2004, W Dall, CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, pers. comm.).

  2. 2.

    Various researchers around the world have adopted different terminologies for the juvenile lobster stages. In this article we have chosen to adopt the North American terms: algal (generally <15 mm CL) = post puerulus, post-algal (15–45 mm CL) = early stage juvenile, subadult (45–80 mm CL), adult (>80 mm CL).

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Acknowledgments

Thanks to Darren Dennis and to two anonymous referees who provided helpful suggestions and constructive criticisms that helped to improve this manuscript and to Lea Crosswell who did the artwork for the life cycle figures.

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Haywood, M.D., Kenyon, R.A. (2009). Habitat Shifts by Decapods—an Example of Connectivity Across Tropical Coastal Ecosystems. In: Nagelkerken, I. (eds) Ecological Connectivity among Tropical Coastal Ecosystems. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-90-481-2406-0_7

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