Connectivity of Lobster Populations in the Coastal Gulf of Maine: Part I: Circulation and Larval Transport Potential


Xue, Huiji; Incze, Lewis; Xu, Danya; Wolff, Nicholas; Pettigrew, Neal

Journal or Book Title: Ecological Modelling

Keywords: Lobster population; Larval transport; Circulation; Model; Gulf of Maine

Volume/Issue: 210/1-2

Page Number(s): 193-211

Year Published: 2006


The remarkable increase of Homarus Americanus (lobster) abundance in recent years has resulted in record landings throughout the states and provinces along the perimeter of the Gulf of Maine. A considerable amount of data on various life stages of lobsters has been collected for research, management and conservation purposes over the past 15 years. We have used these data sets to develop models that simulate lobster populations from newly hatched larval stage through settlement and recruitment to the fishery. This paper presents a part of the synthesis study that focuses on the early life history of lobsters. A coupled biophysical individual based model was developed that considers patterns of egg production (abundance, distribution and timing of hatch), temperature-dependent larval growth, stage-explicit vertical distributions of larvae, and mortality. The biophysical model was embedded in the realistic simulations of the physical environment (current and temperature) from the Gulf of Maine Nowcast/Forecast System. The predominant direction of larval movement follows the cyclonic Gulf of Maine Coastal Current (GMCC). Results show relatively low accumulation of planktonic stages along the eastern Maine coast and high accumulation along the western Maine coast. In years when the eastern branch of the GMCC turns offshore southeast of Penobscot Bay, more particles accumulate downstream of the branch point. Interannual variability is also apparent in development times that vary as a function of year-to-year water temperature variation. The larval stages tend to remain relatively near shore, but the final planktonic stage (the postlarva) resides near the sea surface, and the prevailing southwesterly winds in summer cause eastward and offshore drift of postlarvae. Thus, more settlement might take place earlier in the potentially long postlarval stage, and the timing and strength of the southwesterly winds are important in determining the population of potential settlers.

DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2007.07.024

Type of Publication: Journal Article