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Notes On Phenotypic and Genotypic Variability in Lobsters

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Phenotypic plasticity enables lobster populations to adapt to environmental changes by altering rates of growth, survival, and reproduction. Food supply and water temperature are the most important environmental variables. These have different effects on two important life history parameters, namely size at maturity (Lm) and age at maturity (Tm), both of which are labile in these crustaceans. The mean number of juvenile instars (m) is an important parameter which generally determines species-specific Tm and Lm values, or ranges thereof. Possible effects of genetic selection pressures on m, and hence on Tm and Lm, are discussed. Examples of genetic isolating mechanisms which may result in the development of genotypically distinct subpopulations are provided from the literature and illustrated by means of hypothetical models of larval distribution in relation to oceanographic features.

Affiliations: 1: Sea Fisheries Research Institute, Private Bag X2, Rogge Bay, 8012 Cape Town, South Africa

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