Basic eco-ethology of the queen conch, Strombus gigas (Mesogastropoda: Strombidae) in Xel-Há, Yucatán, Mexican Caribbean
The queen conch Strombus gigas is an important fishery in the Caribbean, whose populations are currently overexploited. Since the decade of 1980 there have been several studies on aquaculture, resource management and area rehabilitation. However, little is known about its behavior in a natural environment and the influence of environmental parameters. Monthly surveys, from January to November 2012 were conducted in in Xel Ha, to observe and quantify six behaviors of S. gigas: rest, feeding, movement, burying, copulation and spawning. The observations were made every hour from 8h to 17h by free diving through three transects with three replicates each. Each behavior was observed 90 times each month. Salinity, temperature and dissolved oxygen were registered at the bottom. We found the highest number of snails at rest in July and the lowest in March and September. Feeding and movements had a peak in August. Most buried in October and November. Copulation was first observed on March with a peak in June and July to October’s spawning. In daytime observations restingt had a peak at 8h; feeding and moving at 12 to 17h. Copulation and spawning did not have a clear pattern. Variations between months and hours (resting, feeding, moving and buried) were significant (p<0.05). Resting correlated with temperature and being buried with oxygen level (r=-0.5803; p=0.0536). Feeding and moving correlated with temperature and salinity. These results should be useful for the conservation, restoration and aquaculture programs. Rev. Biol. Trop. 62 (Suppl. 3): 215-222. Epub 2014 September 01.