Craig Bonn posting on spiny lobster growth as an indicator of overall ecosystem health?

Jack Sobel jsobel at
Fri Jan 4 11:19:33 EST 2002

While spiny lobster growth studies may have considerable value for a number
of reasons (maybe even as an indicator of overall ecosystem health), their
value as an indicator of overall ecoystem health is not clear to me.  Spiny
lobster abundance, population age and size structure, average age & size,
etc. would seem to have greater value as indicators of overall ecosystem
health, especially given the potentially important role spiny lobsters may
play in structuring coral reef communities and the intense fishery that
exists for them.  How would you evaluate overall ecosystem health based on
spiny lobster growth rates, if successful in assessing them?  Would a high
growth or a low growth rate indicate a "healthy ecosystem"?  A natural,
intact, healthy coral reef ecosystem with abundant, large, and
naturally-structured spiny lobster population might have low growth rates
versus a badly overfished, collapsing, coral reef ecosystem with few adult
lobsters present and altered predator-prey relationships...but which would
you consider healthier?
Jack A. Sobel, Director
Ecosystem Programs
The Ocean Conservancy
1725 DeSales St. NW, Suite #600
Washington, DC  20816
Phone:  (202) 429-5609 or (202) 857-3270
Fax:      (202) 872-0619
Email:  jsobel at
Web:    <>


Anyone having information on studies using spiny lobster growth as an
indicator of overall ecosystem health (coral reefs) and could share that
information I would really appreciate it.  A mark and recapture study is
being considered as part of a research proposal.  Suggestions welcomed!

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org:NOAA/NOS;Beaufort Lab
adr:;;101 Pivers Island Road;Beaufort;North Carolina;28512;
email;internet:Craig.Bonn at
title:Biological Science Technician (Fisheries)

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