Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Homing and orientation of Palinurus elephas (Fabricius) in three no-take areas of the central-western Mediterranean: implications for marine reserve design

Maria Cristina Follesa A B , Rita Cannas A , Alessandro Cau A , Danila Cuccu A , Antonello Mulas A , Cristina Porcu A , Silvia Saba A and Angelo Cau A

A Department of Life Science and Environment, University of Cagliari, Via T. Fiorelli, 1, 09126 Cagliari, Italy.

B Corresponding author. Email: follesac@unica.it

Marine and Freshwater Research 66(1) 1-9 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/MF13079
Submitted: 27 March 2013  Accepted: 14 February 2014   Published: 29 October 2014

Abstract

The homing and orientation skills of Palinurus elephas were investigated in three no-take areas of the central-western Mediterranean in order to inform future reserve design. In general, P. elephas did not show a particular ability to orient homeward. A considerable portion of tagged lobsters were recaptured in the same direction as the capture point but, the points of capture and recapture were at such a distance from each other as to exclude any possible return to the original den. Homing ability seemed to be constrained to where lobsters were only displaced a short distance. For distances longer than 0.5 km, the lobster movements seem to become nomadic, without a particular direction. The movement pattern suggests that it will be important that any restocking of marine reserves must be performed with lobsters collected in adjacent zones at distance more than 0.5 km. Lobsters captured in a fishing zone <0.5 km outside the reserve will return to the point of capture whilethose collected from further away will not go back to their original place. Our results indicate that, for species like P. elephas, small reserves can protect most small subpopulations with a consequent benefit for the surrounding commercial areas.

Additional keywords: marine reserves, movements, Palinurus elephas, spillover, tag–recapture.


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