Nutritional condition can affect survival and growth rate of crustaceans, and this is mostly affected by habitat conditions. This study describes the space-temporary nutritional changes in this commercially important species. With this aim, the variations in the nutritional condition (K) of lobsters from four zones (1, 2, 4 and 5) in the Gulf of Batabanó, Cuba, were determined. For this, the weight/length ratio (K=Pt/Lt) was calculated using animals captured in 1981 and 2010. The nutritional condition between areas and sexes, and years and sexes, was contrasted by a bifactorial ANOVA, and the overall length and weight of lobsters were compared using a t-Test for independent samples and unifactorial ANOVA. It was found that the nutritional condition was significantly greater in males than in females. In addition, significant variations between zones were detected for both years. Nutritional condition of lobsters from Zone five was the highest for 1981, while it was Zone two for 2010. Lobsters nutritional state showed significant variations between years, being greater in 1981 (2.34±0.84g/mm) than in 2010 (1.96±0.49g/mm). The inter-zones variations as well as the inter-annual ones seem to be related to the reported variations of the bottom type and the vegetation cover. Seasonal variations in the abundance and distribution of benthic organisms, that constitute food for lobsters, could also be influencing. The differences between sexes, however, were assumed as a consequence of the methodology used and the sexual dimorphism of the species. Due to other K estimation methods, that do not include morphometric measurements, these differences were not detected. We suggested that the P. argus nutritional condition is a good estimator of the habitat condition. Besides, according to the applied K estimation methodology, it was found that different groups of lobsters that have resemblant nutritional condition, did not necessarily observe similarities in the overall mean length or weight, so they could exist under different habitat conditions.
Keywords: panulirus argus, nutritional condition, gulf of batabanó