Volume 69

Sponges and the Spatial Epidemiology of Panulirus argus Virus 1 (PaV1) in Caribbean Spiny Lobsters Throughout the Florida Keys

Clark, A.S., and D.C. Behringer
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Date: November, 2016

Pages: 274 - 275

Event: Proceedings of the Sixty eigth Annual Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute

City: Grand Cayman

Country: Cayman Islands


The Caribbean spiny lobster supports the highest valued marine fishery in the Caribbean where annual landings exceed $1 billion. While spiny lobsters represent an important fishery, the effects of Panulirus argus Virus 1 (PaV1) on their populations and the fishery remain unknown. This pathogen is found throughout the Caribbean region and the Florida Keys (USA) where it is most lethal for juvenile lobsters in hard-bottom nursery habitats. However, PaV1 exhibits variability in prevalence across habitats of different type, community composition, and structural complexity. Prior work has shown that early benthic juvenile (EBJ) lobsters contract PaV1 in the hard-bottom areas of Florida Bay, but not in seagrass beds (Behringer and Butler, unpub. data). Sponges, organisms that oftentimes dominate hard-bottom habitat, provide shelter for sympatric lobsters. Since lobsters tend to shelter in and around sponges, sponges may play a role in the dispersal and transmission of PaV1.

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