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Effects of habitat complexity on the aggressive behaviour of the American lobster ( Homarus americanus ) in captivity

By F. Cenni, G. Parisi, F. Gherardi

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The American lobster, Homarus americanus, is one of the most economically valuable crustacean decapods worldwide, being mostly exploited to foster the live animal industry. Lobsters are typically held in storage facilities where individuals may suffer due to the repeated combats among each other. Loss of chelae and other damages may also reduce their market value. Here, we investigate the potential use of a complex habitat to reduce fighting in a group of lobsters. Pieces of concrete bricks positioned within the experimental tanks were used to increase the complexity of the habitat. The behaviour of groups of four similarly sized lobsters in these tanks was recorded for an hour for a total of seven trials for three consecutive days and was compared with the behaviour of similar groups maintained in simple habitats. The results showed, first, that habitat complexity reduces the agonistic intensity of interactions and the time spent fighting and, second, that this reduction remains constant with time. It is finally suggested that a complex environment may "distract" lobsters and interfere with the transmission of the stimuli used to detect conspecifics. Our results, although provisional, provide valuable suggestions for lobster storage. Habitat enrichment, combined with shelters, might serve as a cheap and easy method to reduce lobsters' aggression in captivity, being less invasive than chelae immobilization, on one hand, and more respectful of animal welfare, on the other.

Date 2009
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 122
Issue 1
Pages 63-70
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
Language English
Author Address Dipartimento di Biologia Evoluzionistica "Leo Pardi", Universita di Firenze, Via Romana 17, 50125 Firenze, Italy.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Aggression
  2. Agonistic behavior
  3. Animal behavior
  4. Animal ecology
  5. Animal rights
  6. Animal welfare
  7. Aquacultural and fisheries
  8. Aquatic Biology and Ecology
  9. Aquatic organisms
  10. Arthropods
  11. Crustaceans
  12. Diseases
  13. Enrichment
  14. Habitats
  15. Immobilization
  16. Interactions
  17. Invertebrates
  18. Parasites
  19. peer-reviewed
  20. shellfish
  21. shelters
  22. transmission
  23. World
  1. peer-reviewed