Ovary resorption in the Norway lobster (Nephrops norvegicus) and its possible causes with special reference to sperm storage

Carola Becker*, Jaimie T.A. Dick, E. Mánus Cunningham, Mathieu Lundy, Ewen Bell, Lawrence Eagling, Julia D. Sigwart

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

The Norway lobster, Nephrops norvegicus, is an important fisheries species in the North-East Atlantic area. In some circumstances, mature females of Nephrops norvegicus can resorb their ovary rather than completing spawning, but the implications of this phenomenon to reproductive biology and fisheries sustainability are not known. To understand after effects of ovary resorption, we studied long-term demographic data sets (1994–2017) collected from the western Irish Sea and the North Sea. Our considerations focused on potential correlations among the frequency of resorption, female insemination, and body size of resorbing females. Resorption was continuously rare in the western Irish Sea (less than 1%); whereas much higher rates with considerable year-to-year variation were observed in the North Sea (mean 9%). Resorption started in autumn after the spawning season (summer) had passed. The frequency stayed high throughout winter and declined again in spring. As sperm limitation can occur in male-biased fisheries, we expected a lack of insemination could be responsible for resorption, but affected females were indeed inseminated. Resorbing females were significantly larger than other sexually mature females in the North Sea, but the opposite trend was observed in the western Irish Sea. It is therefore possible that other, environmental factors or seasonal shifts, may trigger females to resorb their ovaries instead of spawning. Resorption may as well represent a natural phenomenon allowing flexibility in the periodicity of growth and reproduction. In this sense, observations of annual versus biennial reproductive cycles in different regions may be closely linked to the phenomenon of ovary resorption.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12
Number of pages17
JournalHelgoland Marine Research
Volume74
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by the UK Sea Fish Industry Authority’s (Seafish) Strategic Investment Programme and Kilkeel/Whitby Seafoods (U.K.) (Grant Number SR-7941610). Acknowledgements

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, The Author(s).

Copyright:
Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science

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