Scientia Marina, Vol 73, No 3 (2009)

Movement patterns of the spiny lobster Palinurus elephas (Fabricius, 1787) from a central western Mediterranean protected area

Maria Cristina Follesa
Department of Animal Biology and Ecology, University of Cagliari, Italy

Danila Cuccu
Department of Animal Biology and Ecology, University of Cagliari, Italy

Rita Cannas
Department of Animal Biology and Ecology, University of Cagliari, Italy

Andrea Sabatini
Department of Animal Biology and Ecology, University of Cagliari, Italy

Anna Maria Deiana
Department of Animal Biology and Ecology, University of Cagliari, Italy

Angelo Cau
Department of Animal Biology and Ecology, University of Cagliari, Italy


Movement patterns of the spiny lobster Palinurus elephas were determined from 389 individuals (total tagged 5666) tag-recaptured inside a no-take area of the central western Mediterranean and its surrounding zone. High site association and limited movements in tagged lobsters was observed; 60.4% of lobsters moved less than 2 km from the centre of the area (site of release). No clear relationship between lobster movement pattern and sex or size was observed; however, it seemed that the largest males and females tended to be more resident, thus contributing to the rebuilding of the biomass of local lobsters. Most lobsters undertook migrations in the southwest direction. The increased availability of shelters and food towards the southwest could have contributed to the lobsters’ movement. The results of our research indicate that the small size of the protected area and the scale of the movement exhibited by tagged lobsters allows a proportion of the lobster population to move out of the protected area and become susceptible to capture in the adjacent fishery.


lobster; Palinurus elephas; protected area; spillover; movement

Full Text:



Annala, J.H. and B. Bycroft. – 1993. Movements of rock lobsters (Jasus edwardsii) tagged in Fiordland, New Zealand. N. Z. J. Mar. Freshw. Res., 27: 183-190.

Attwood, C.G. and B.A. Bennett. – 1995. Modelling the effect of marine reserves on the recreational shore-fishery of the Southwestern Cape, South Africa. S. Afr. J. Mar. Sci., 16: 227-240.

Booth, J.D. – 1997. Long distance movement in Jasus spp. and their role in larval recruitment. Bull. Mar. Sci., 61: 111-128.

Campillo, A., L. De Reynal and J. Amadei. – 1979. Premières observations sur la reproduction de la langouste rouge Palinurus elephas Fabricius de Méditerranée. Rapp. Comm. Int. Mer Médit., 25/26: 4.

Cockcroft, A.C., J.C. Groeneveld and G.C. Cruywagen. – 1995. The influence depth, latitude and width of the continental slope on the size distribution and availability of spiny lobsters Palinurus delagoae off the east coast of south Africa. S. Afr. J. Mar. Sci., 16: 149-160.

Davis, G.E. and J.W. Dodrill. – 1989. Recreational fishery and population dynamics of spiny lobsters, Palinurus argus, in Florida Bay, Everglades National Park, 1977- 1980. Bull. Mar. Sci., 44: 78-88.

DeMartini, E.E. – 1993. Modelling the potential of fishery reserves for a managing Pacific coral reef fishes. Fish. Bull., 91: 414-427.

Díaz, D., M. Marí, P. Abelló and M. Demestre. – 2001. Settlement and juvenile habitat of European spiny lobsters Palinurus elephas (Crustacea: Decapoda: Palinuridae) in the western Mediterranean Sea. Sci. Mar., 65: 347-356. doi:10.3989/scimar.2001.65n4347

Dugan, J.E. and G.F. Davis. – 1993. Applications of marine refugia to coastal fisheries management. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci., 50: 2029-2042. doi:10.1139/f93-227

Follesa, M.C., D. Cuccu, R. Cannas, A. Sabatini and A. Cau. – 2007. Emigration and retention of Palinurus elephas (Fabricius, 1787) restocked in a region of the central western Mediterranean. Sci. Mar., 71(2): 279-285. doi:10.3989/scimar.2007.71n2279

Follesa, M.C., D. Cuccu, R. Cannas, S. Cabiddu, M. Murenu, A. Sabatini and A. Cau. – 2008. Effects of protection on spiny lobster abundance and size (Palinurus elephas Fabr. 1787) in a Central Western Mediterranean Area. Hydrobiol., 606: 63-68. doi:10.1007/s10750-008-9346-8

Gardner, C., S. Frusher, M. Haddon and C. Buxton. – 2003. Movements of the southern rock lobster Jasus edwardsii in Tasmania, Australia. Bull. Mar. Sci., 73(3): 653-671.

George, R.W. – 2005. Evolution of life cycles, including migration, in spiny lobsters (Palinuridae) 2005. N. Z. J. Mar. Freshw. Res., 39: 503-514.

Giacalone, V.M., G. D’Anna, C. Pipitone and F. Badalamenti. – 2006. Movements and residence time of the spiny lobsters, Palinurus elephas released in a marine protected area: an investigation by ultrasonic telemetry. J. Mar. Biol. Ass. U.K., 86: 1101-1106. doi:10.1017/S002531540601407X

Goñi, R. and D. Latrouite. – 2005. Review of the biology, ecology and fisheries of Palinurus species of European waters: Palinurus elephas (Fabricius, 1787) and Palinurus mauritanicus (Gruvel, 1911). Cah. Biol. Mar., 46: 127-142.

Goñi, R., A. Quetglas and O. Reñones. – 2003. Size at maturity, fecundity and reproductive potential of a protected population of the spiny lobster Palinurus elephas (Fabricius, 1787) from the western Mediterranean. Mar. Biol., 143: 583-592. doi:10.1007/s00227-003-1097-5

Goñi, R., A. Quetglas and O. Reñones. – 2006. Spillover of spiny lobsters Palinurus elephas from a marine reserve to as adjoining fishery. Mar. Ecol. Progr. Ser., 308: 207-219. doi:10.3354/meps308207

Groeneveld, J.C. – 2002. Long distance migration of the rock lobster Palinurus delagoae off South African. S. Afr. J. Mar. Sci., 24: 395-400.

Groeneveld, J.C. and G.M. Branch. – 2002. Long-distance migration of south African deep-wares rock lobster Palinurus gilchristi. Mar. Ecol. Progr. Ser., 232: 225-238. doi:10.3354/meps232225

Guenette, S., T. Lauck and C. Clark. – 1998. Marine reserve: from Beverton and Holt to the present. Rev. Fish. Biol. Fish., 8: 251-272. doi:10.1023/A:1008859130275

Guenette, S. and T.J. Pitcher. – 1999. An age-structured model showing the benefits of marine reserves in controlling overexploitation. Fish. Res., 39: 295-303. doi:10.1016/S0165-7836(98)00173-8

Herrnkind, W.F. – 1980. Spiny lobsters: patterns of movement. In: J.S. Cobb and B. Phillips (eds.), The biology and management of lobsters, Vol. 1, pp. 49-407. Physiology and behaviour. Academic Press, New York.

Herrnkind, W.F. – 1983. Movement patterns and orientation. In: F.J. Wernberg and W.B. Wernberg (eds.), The biology of Crustacea. Vol. 7, pp. 41-105. Academic Press, New York.

Hunter, E., S.E. Shackley and D.B. Bennet. – 1996. Recent studies on the crawfish Palinurus elephas in South Wales and Cornwall. J. Mar. Biol. Ass. U.K., 76: 963-983.

Kelly, S. – 2001. Temporal variation in the movement of the spiny lobster Jasus edwardsii. Mar. Fresh. Res., 10: 209-231.

Kelly, S., D. Scott and A.B. MacDiarmid. – 2002. The value of a spillover fishery for spiny lobsters around a marine reserve in Northern New Zealand. Coast. Manag., 30: 153-166. doi:10.1080/089207502753504689

Kelly, S. and A.B. MacDiarmid. – 2003. Movements patterns of mature spiny lobsters, Jasus edwardsii, from a marine reserve. N.Z. J. Mar. Freshw. Res., 37: 149-158.

McKoy, J.L. – 1983. Movements of rock lobsters, Jasus edwardsii (Decapoda: Palinuridae), tagged near Stewart Island, New Zealand. N.Z. J. Mar. Freshw. Res., 17:357-366.

McGarvey, R. – 2004. Estimating the emigration rate of fish stocks from marine sanctuaries using tag-recovery data. Fish. Bull., 102: 464-472.

Mercer, J.P. – 1973. Studies on the spiny lobsters (Crustacea: Decapoda: Palinuridae) of the west coast of Ireland, with particular reference to Palinurus elephas Fabricius, 1787. Ph. D. thesis, Univ. College Galway, Ireland.

Norman, C.P., H. Yamakawa and T. Yoshimura. – 1994. Habitat selection, growth rate and density of juvenile Palinurus japonicus (Von Siebold, 1824) (Decapoda, Palinuridae) at Banda, Chiba Prefecture, Japan. Crustaceana, 66(3): 366-383. doi:10.1163/156854094X00099

Pérès, J.M.and J. Picard. – 1964. Nouveau manuel de bionomie benthique de la Méditerranée. Rec. Trav. Sta. Mar. Endoume, 31(47): 1-37.

Phillips, B.F. – 1983. Migrations of pre-adults western rock lobsters, Palinurus cygnus, in Western Australia. Mar. Biol., 76: 311-318. doi:10.1007/BF00393034

Phillips, B.F. and J. Kittaka. – 2000. Spiny lobsters: fisheries and culture. Fishing News Books, Oxford.

Polacheck, T. – 1990. Year around closed areas as a management tool. Natur. Res. Model., 4: 327-354.

Rakitin, A. and D.L. Kramer. – 1996. Effect of marine reserve on the distribution of coral reef fishes in Barbados. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser., 131: 97-113. doi:10.3354/meps131097

Roberts, C.M. and N.V.C. Polunin. – 1993. Effects of marine reserve protection on Northern Red Sea fish populations. Proc. 7th Int. Coral Reef Symp., 2: 979-987.

Rowe, S. – 2001. Movement and harvesting mortality of American lobsters (Homarus americanus) tagged inside and outside notake reserves in Bonavista Bay, Newfoundland. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci., 58: 1336-1346. doi:10.1139/cjfas-58-7-1336

Sanchez Lisazo, J.L., R. Goñi, O. Reñones, J.A. Garcia Charton, R. Galzin, J.T. Bayle, P. Sanchez Jerez, A. Perez Ruzafa and A.A. Ramos. – 2000. Density dependence in marine protected populations: a review. Env. Conserv., 27(2): 144-158. doi:10.1017/S0376892900000187

Secci, E., D. Cuccu, M.C. Follesa and A. Cau. – 1999. Fishery and tagging of Palinurus elephas in Sardinian seas. In: J.C. Von- Vaupel Klein and F.R. Schram (eds.), The Biodiversity Crisis and Crustacea: Procedings of the Fourth International Crustacean Congress, Amsterdam. Brill, Leiden.

Stewart, J. and S.J. Kennelly. – 1998. Contrasting movements of two exploited Scyllarid lobsters of the genus Ibacus off the east coast of Australia. Fish. Res., 36: 127-132. doi:10.1016/S0165-7836(98)00104-0

Stockhausen, W.T., R.N. Lipcius and B.M. Hickey. – 2000. Joint effects of larval dispersal, population regulation, marine reserve design, and exploitation on production and recruitment in the Caribbean spiny lobster. Bull. Mar. Sci., 66: 957-990.

Zar, J.H. – 1996. Biostatistical analysis. 3rd edition. Prentice-Hall. Englewood Cliffs-NJ.

Copyright (c) 2009 Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Contact us

Technical support