Gregariousness and sociality in spiny lobsters: implications for den habitation

Richard K. Zimmer-Faust, Ehud Spanier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Influences of shelter construction and conspecific attraction on den habitation by the spiny lobster, Panulirus interruptus Randall, were explored using field observations and laboratory experiments. Lobsters were often found aggregated in crevices of rocky reefs, with juveniles cohabiting more frequently than larger adults. No association was found between cohabitation and lobster gender. In laboratory tests, individual lobsters preferred large over small sized shelter, though preference was neither fully a consequence of outer shelter dimensions nor inner habitable space. Individual lobsters preferred only shelters suitable for future cohabitation and paired lobsters cohabited more often than expected by chance. Conspecific odor was attractive and caused aggregation; thus, results indicate an intrinsic gregariousness that structures den residency and lobster spatial distribution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-71
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 17 Feb 1987
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors express their gratitude to D. Richardson, T. Lynch, J. Shields, S. Anderson, J. McCullagh, Dr. S. Bernstein, M. Day, and Dr. M. Latz. Research was sponsored in part by grants from the Whitehall and Scheuer Foundations. This paper is dedicated to Drs. S. Willason and T. Mickel on their retirements from science.


  • Gregariousness
  • Lobster
  • Panulirus
  • Predatory defense
  • Refuging
  • Sheltering
  • Social behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science


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