Larval development time is a critical factor in assessing the potential for larval transport, mortality. and subsequently, the connectivity of marine populations through larval exchange. Most estimates of larval duration are based on laboratory studies and may not reflect development times in nature. For larvae of the American lobster (Homarus americanus), temperature-dependent development times have been established in previous laboratory studies. Here, we used the timing of seasonal abundance curves for newly hatched larvae (stage 1) and the final plankonic instar (postlarva), coupled with a model of temperature-dependent development to assess development time in the field. We were unable to reproduce the timing of the seasonal abundance curves using laboratory development rates in our model. Our results suggest that larval development in situ may be twice as fast as reported laboratory rates. This will result in reduced estimates of larval transport potential, and increased estimates of instantaneous mortality rate and production.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/robert_steneck/3/