University Of Tasmania
140488 - Temperature alters the physiological response of spiny lobsters under predation risk.pdf (1.09 MB)

Temperature alters the physiological response of spiny lobsters under predation risk

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-20, 17:06 authored by Briceno, FA, Quinn FitzgibbonQuinn Fitzgibbon, Elias Polymeropoulos, Hinojosa, IA, Gretta PeclGretta Pecl

Predation risk can strongly shape prey ecological traits, with specific anti-predator responses displayed to reduce encounters with predators. Key environmental drivers, such as temperature, can profoundly modulate prey energetic costs in ectotherms, although we currently lack knowledge of how both temperature and predation risk can challenge prey physiology and ecology. Such uncertainties in predator–prey interactions are particularly relevant for marine regions experiencing rapid environmental changes due to climate change. Using the octopus (Octopus maorum)–spiny lobster (Jasus edwardsii) interaction as a predator–prey model, we examined different metabolic traits of sub adult spiny lobsters under predation risk in combination with two thermal scenarios: ‘current’ (20°C) and ‘warming’ (23°C), based on projections of sea-surface temperature under climate change. We examined lobster standard metabolic rates to define the energetic requirements at specific temperatures. Routine metabolic rates (RMRs) within a respirometer were used as a proxy of lobster activity during night and day time, and active metabolic rates, aerobic scope and excess post-exercise oxygen consumption were used to assess the energetic costs associated with escape responses (i.e. tail-flipping) in both thermal scenarios. Lobster standard metabolic rate increased at 23°C, suggesting an elevated energetic requirement (39%) compared to 20°C. Unthreatened lobsters displayed a strong circadian pattern in RMR with higher rates during the night compared with the day, which were strongly magnified at 23°C. Once exposed to predation risk, lobsters at 20°C quickly reduced their RMR by ~29%, suggesting an immobility or ‘freezing’ response to avoid predators. Conversely, lobsters acclimated to 23°C did not display such an anti-predator response. These findings suggest that warmer temperatures may induce a change to the typical immobility predation risk response of lobsters. It is hypothesized that heightened energetic maintenance requirements at higher temperatures may act to override the normal predator-risk responses under climate-change scenarios.


Publication title

Conservation Physiology



Article number









Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Oxford Univ Press

Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press and the Society for Experimental Biology. 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

Wild caught rock lobster; Marine biodiversity; Understanding climate change not elsewhere classified