Contribution of variability in embryo development rate and status at hatch to the protracted hatch period of female American lobster Homarus americanus

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University of New Brunswick


Female American lobsters typically hatch their embryos over protracted hatch periods of 15-32 days. To investigate the mechanisms underlying this intra-brood variation in hatch time, I reared individual embryos from June to September 2017 at a constant temperature of 9°C, took photos of them at the beginning of the study and prior to hatch, and measured their eye size as a proxy of their development status. A multiple linear regression model explained 74% of the variability in hatch day, and indicated that embryos that hatcher earlier in the summer are (i) more developed come spring (44% of explained variance), (ii) less advanced in development (28%), and (iii) develop at a faster rate (27%). This study suggests that the process of hatching is not strictly associated with a particular role of the brooding female, but rather is perhaps mostly a function of processes or attributes of individual embryos.