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Seagrass and algal beds as nursery habitats for tiger prawns (Penaeus semisulcatus and P. esculentus) in a tropical Australian estuary

Haywood, M.D.E., Vance, D.J. and Loneragan, N.R. (1995) Seagrass and algal beds as nursery habitats for tiger prawns (Penaeus semisulcatus and P. esculentus) in a tropical Australian estuary. Marine Biology, 122 (2). pp. 213-223.

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We evaluated the importance of seagrass and algae to two species of tiger prawns (Penaeus semisulcatus and P. esculentus) by detailed sampling at four sites (two seagrass, two algae) in the Embley River estuary, and through sampling 26 sites in 7 adjacent estuaries at one time of year. Samples of tiger prawns were collected in the Embley River estuary with a small beam trawl at night every 2 wk from September to May for 2 yr (1990 to 1992). The two seagrass sites, which were 11 and 13 km from the river mouth, showed less seasonal variation in salinity than the two algal sites, which were 15 and 20 km from the river mouth. The algal beds at the two upstream sites almost disappeared during the wet season, but the biomass of seagrass did not change significantly between the wet and dry seasons. The grooved tiger prawn (P. semisulcatus), the main species at all sites, comprised 88% of the total tiger prawn catch over the two years. They were found at all sites during the pre-wet season, but after the onset of the wet season, they disappeared along with the algae, from the upstream sites. The brown tiger prawn (P. esculentus) was found almost exclusively (97% of the total catch) on the seagrass sites downstream. In the study of several estuaries, juvenile P. semisulcatus were caught at all 26 sites, and P. esculentus were caught in much smaller numbers, at 16 sites. Approximately equal numbers of P. semisulcatus were caught in seagrass and algal beds in the pre-wet season. Very few individuals >10 mm carapace length of either species, were caught. The results from this study highlight the importance of algal beds during the pre-wet season as nursery areas for one species of tiger prawn (P. semisulcatus).

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Springer Verlag
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