Estimation of recent growth of field-caught postlarval American lobsters, Homarus americanus, from RNA:DNA ratios

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We developed a growth model for the postlarvae of the American lobster, Homarus americanus, using the relationship of RNA:DNA ratios, temperature, and growth rates during postmolt through early pre-molt of laboratory-reared postlarval lobsters. The model was used to estimate individual growth rates of 385 postlarval lobsters in molt stages C and D0, collected at two sites in Block Island Sound over three years, 1988–90. The mean growth rates of postlarvae collected in June 1989 and 1990 (0.57 ± 0.19 and 0.54 ± 0.18 mg protein∙d−1) were significantly higher than those collected in July (0.39 ± 0.17 and 0.43 ± 0.18 mg protein∙d−1). Changes in sea surface temperatures of zooplankton biomass did not account for the seasonal difference in growth rates, nor was there correlation between the biweekly mean growth rates and postlarval densities. The incidence of poorly nourished postlarval lobsters (individuals with growth rates < 0.22 mg protein∙d−1) was less than 10% of the total samples in each year. We found no evidence that food limitation, resulting in starvation or prolonged duration of the postlarval instar, was a significant factor contributing to the observed interannual variability of postlarval densities.

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Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences