N Sachlikidis; CM Jones; J Seymour
Two experiments were performed to assess the effect of photoperiod and temperature on spawning of Panulirus ornatus. In experiment 1, sexually mature lobsters taken from the wild during summer were held at one of two photoperiods, winter (13 Light:11 Dark) and summer (14.5 Light:9.5 Dark). Additionally, lobsters were also exposed to either summer (29°C) or winter (24°C) average water temperatures. Spawning was significantly greater when animals were exposed to summer photoperiod than to winter photoperiod, irrespective of temperature. Although a higher percentage of lobsters spawned when placed under a higher temperature, this trend was not statistically significant. In experiment 2, sexually mature lobsters were taken from the wild during winter and exposed to the same two photoperiods as in experiment 1, at a summer equivalent temperature of 29°C. Breeding started earlier and was more successful at the summer photoperiod. Time to first breeding was 17 weeks after exposure to summer photoperiod, compared with less than 1 week in experiment 1, and did not occur until individuals had moulted. Moulting occurred in 81% of lobsters, primarily after an increase in temperature to 29°C. The time between moulting and mating was varied and there was no significant difference in moult frequency between the two experimental photoperiods. After the lobsters had moulted, breeding success was reached earlier if photoperiod was lengthened. Results suggest photoperiod is the primary cue for the onset of gonad maturity and mating activity, with temperature playing a less important role. Physiological rest and possibly a moult may be required between breeding seasons before spawning can occur. Furthermore, temperature may be an important cue for pre-reproduction moulting.