Sub-lethal Impacts of Climate Change on Lobster Reproduction

Summary

Warming waters in southern New England have been implicated in the decline and recruitment failure of lobsters in the region. Coincidentally, the prevalence of shell disease has increased. Does a lobster's disease status have a significant influence on its reproductive output? Can it be used to represent reproductive capacity at a stock level? What is the potential for rebuilding the southern New England lobster stock? What lessons might be applied to the Gulf of Maine fishery?

Project Period

2016-2019

Activities

  1. Document the mating success and maturity status of female lobsters in nearshore southern New England.
  2. Determine if there are differences in quantity and quality of ejaculate produced by diseased versus non-diseased males.
  3. Document, in a controlled laboratory setting, the mating behavior of diseased males and females.
  4. Develop a reliable technique for quantifying the amount of sperm within a male’s ejaculate, and use this to estimate the total amount of sperm passed to females.
  5. Assess the reproductive output (quality and quantity of eggs) of southern New England females relative to disease status. (Wells Reserve responsibility)

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