The Norway lobster, Nephrops norvegicus, is a commercially exploited decapod which is widely distributed throughout the north-eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea. Ovigerous females originating from the Mediterranean and the Irish Seas were held in the laboratory until larvae hatched. Biomass and biochemical composition, as well as digestive gland structure, were examined in newly hatched larvae from these two regions. In addition, previously published data from a North Sea population were included in our comparison. Elemental analyses showed that the absolute quantities of dry mass (DM), carbon (C), nitrogen (N) and hydrogen (H) (collectively referred to as CHN) per individual, and the C:N mass ratios, were significantly lower, while the relative CHN, protein and lipid values (in % of DM) were higher in samples from the Irish Sea compared to larvae originating from either the Mediterranean or the North Sea. As in CHN, the absolute level of protein per individual was higher in larvae from the Mediterranean, while no significant differences were observed in the individual lipid contents. Likewise, the digestive gland structure at hatching did not show any differences between study areas. Intraspecific variability in biomass and chemical composition of newly hatched larvae from different regions may be related to differential patterns of reproduction in regions with different climatic conditions. Lobster larvae hatch in the Mediterranean Sea predominantly in winter when both water temperature and planktonic food availability are at a minimum, while hatching in the Irish Sea occurs under more favourable conditions in spring. Hence, significantly higher wet mass, dry mass and protein values in Mediterranean larvae may represent adaptive traits allowing for early posthatching survival and development under food-limited conditions in an oligotrophic environment.
Helmholtz Research Programs > MARCOPOLI (2004-2008) > CO2-Coastal diversity - key species and food webs