University Of Tasmania
150372 - Spiny lobsters prefer native prey over range-extending.pdf (1 MB)

Spiny lobsters prefer native prey over range-extending invasive urchins

Download (1 MB)

Climate change increases the need to control range-extending species, which adversely impact their recipient ecosystem. Increasing populations of resident predators may be effective to counter such range-extension, but only if they consume the novel invaders at sufficient rates. In South-East Australia, poleward range-extending Longspined Sea Urchins (Centrostephanus rodgersii) are causing catastrophic ecological habitat transition to extensive urchin barrens. Tasmanian native Southern Rock Lobster (Jasus edwardsii) is a potential predator that could control further urchin expansion. Experimental feeding trials showed that range-extending Longspined Sea Urchins are the least preferred prey choice for Southern Rock Lobsters (3.8% predation events), when compared to three local species: abalone, urchins, and snails (36.6, 32.6, and 27%). Interestingly, habitat origin and naivete of lobsters to urchins affected urchin consumption with 85% being consumed by lobsters originating from urchin barrens. Low predation rates on Longspined Sea Urchin suggest that resident lobsters are unlikely to control further barren expansion unless a behavioural shift occurs. Results imply that potential control of Longspined Sea Urchins by Southern Rock Lobsters has previously been overestimated. Additional control methods are needed to safeguard ecological communities and important commercial stocks from this climate change-induced, range-extending pest species.


Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment


Publication title

ICES Journal of Marine Science










Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Academic Press Ltd Elsevier Science Ltd

Place of publication

24-28 Oval Rd, London, England, Nw1 7Dx

Rights statement

© The Author(s) 2022. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of International Council for the Exploration of the Sea. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License ( which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Assessment and management of benthic marine ecosystems; Control of pests, diseases and exotic species in marine environments; Ecosystem adaptation to climate change