Photographic identification based on unique, polymorphic colour patterns: a novel method for tracking a marine crustacean

Frisch, Ashley J., and Hobbs, Jean-Paul A. (2007) Photographic identification based on unique, polymorphic colour patterns: a novel method for tracking a marine crustacean. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 351 (1-2). pp. 294-299.

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Abstract

Mark–recapture techniques are an important tool for estimating population parameters of vagile organisms. However, the application of marks (tags) to crustaceans is problematic due to tag-loss during moulting of the exoskeleton. Accordingly, we investigated the use of external colour patterns to distinguish (via photographic identification) individuals of a common marine crustacean (painted crayfish, Panulirus versicolor). Colour patterns were found to be highly polymorphic and individually unique, such that all crayfish in a sample of 59 could be individually identified. When 30 of these crayfish were recaptured after 6–36 months at liberty, colour patterns were unchanged, despite moulting during the inter-census period. It was concluded that (1) photographic identification is an effective method for tracking P. versicolor through time and space, and (2) this method of identification may be useful in capture–recapture investigations of other invertebrate species that display polymorphic colour patterns. This result is significant given the logistical, ecological and ethical problems of attaching tags to crustaceans, as well as invertebrates in general.

Item ID: 2501
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: Crustacea; intra-specific variation; mark-recapture; photographic identification; polymorphism; spiny lobster
ISSN: 0022-0981
Date Deposited: 24 Jul 2009 01:01
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0606 Physiology > 060604 Comparative Physiology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 83 ANIMAL PRODUCTION AND ANIMAL PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 8301 Fisheries - Aquaculture > 830199 Fisheries - Aquaculture not elsewhere classified @ 100%
Citation Count from Web of Science Web of Science 11
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