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Large-scale oceanic circulation and larval recruitment of the spiny lobster Panulirus argus (Latreille, 1804)

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The most important populations of the spiny lobster (Panulirus argus (Latreille, 1804)) in the Atlantic are found in the Caribbean and along the Brazilian coast. Field studies covering the waters off the Cuban archipelago and Brazil have improved our understanding of the importance of oceanic circulation to larval recruitment. South of Cuba, puerulus settlement is intensive in October and November when the coastal reefs (83°W) are impacted by a cyclone-anticyclone pair, suggesting this area is the main source of retention and supply of surviving larvae, thus of self-recruitment. On the continental shelf of Brazil, puerulus settlement takes place throughout the year, but two annual peaks have been identified: one in March-April and one in July-September, when retroflection eddies of the North Brazil Current are more intense and feed into the eastward-flowing North Equatorial Countercurrent. Conceivably, Brazilian spiny lobster larvae are trapped in this oceanic system, leading to self-recruitment. On the continental shelf of Brazil the larval period lasts 6-7 months, depending on the season and spawning date. In the Caribbean the period is reported to be 6-8 months. Information on the relative abundance of early-stage spiny lobster larvae makes it possible to predict patterns of recruitment of pueruli and juveniles and the timing of their life cycle. However, further research on seasonal variations in local currents, current retroflection and ring formation is needed to clarify important aspects of larval transport, puerulus settlement and recruitment.

Affiliations: 1: 1Instituto de Ciências do Mar, Universidade Federal do Ceará, Avenida da Abolição 3207, Meireles Fortaleza, Brazil; 2: 2Instituto Federal de Educação, Ciências e Tecnologia do Ceará (IFCE)-Campus Acaraú. Av. Des. Armando de Sales Louzada, s/n, Acaraú, CE, Brazil


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