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Historical Review of Lobster Life History Terminology and Proposed Modifications To Current Schemes

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Terms for the life history and developmental phases of the American lobster, Homarus americanus, vary substantially and have been frequently revised (Cobb et al., 1983; Hudon, 1987; Barshaw & Bryant-Rich, 1988; Wahle & Steneck, 1991; Cobb & Wahle, 1994). Their evolution shows several trends: (1) acknowledgement of pronounced morphological, physiological, and behavioral changes accompanying a metamorphic molt into the fourth pelagic stage; (2) recognition of behavioral changes (facilitated by decreasing mortality risk) leading to increased vagility over the size range ~ 5 to 40 mm carapace length (CL), and (3) consideration of the impact of reproductive maturation on lobster movement and social interaction. Before further modifying current terminological schemes (Wahle & Steneck, 1991; Cobb & Wahle, 1994), a historical perspective is provided and problems with existing schemes are presented. Our proposed scheme, which better integrates ecological ontogeny with developmental, biological, and individual behavioral attributes, partitions the life history into seven phases (exclusive of the attached egg and prelarval stages): pelagic larval, postlarval, shelter-restricted juvenile, emergent juvenile, vagile juvenile, adolescent, and adult. It should also provide a template from which to standardize life history schemes for spiny lobsters where there are similar problems with current terminology.

Affiliations: 1: Marine Science Center, Northeastern University, Nahant, MA 01908, U.S.A.; 2: Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Biological Station, St. Andrews, New Brunswick, EOG 2X0, Canada


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