Abstract

Introduction: Nutritional condition indices are morphophysiological estimators that quantify the nutritional status of organisms. In the natural habitat, unsatisfactory nutritional stage of numerous individuals is an expression of unfavorable factors. Objectives: Determine spatio-temporal variations in the nutritional condition of lobsters Panulirus argus, relate them to variations reported in the benthic community, and to demonstrate, through the application of analytical and morphometric indices, that variations of environmental factors affects both groups of indices due to its potential magnitude and its generalized nature. Methods: Lobsters were captured at six sites. Nutritional condition was estimated by three non-destructive, inexpensive and quick indices also easy to apply, which it means extensive indices: blood refractive index (BRI), relationship between total weight and total length (K), and condition factor (CFA). Because there are no historical records of BRI, long-term variations (60 years) were determined using morphometric indices (Klt and CFA). Data from the periods 1963-1964 (N = 29 001), 1983-1993 (N = 3 123) and 2011-2017 (N = 3 600) were analyzed, separating them in the rainy and dry seasons. Results: In all the periods the nutritional condition varied significantly between sites, but without similarities between periods. Despite this, it increased progressively in three sites. This indicates that factors impacting nutritional condition have a stochastic influence that is constantly changing, which is more characteristic of environmental factors than anthropogenic factors. Although the three indices showed a lower nutritional condition in 2017, only BRI gradually decreased between 2011 (16.6) and 2017 (14.2), which suggests that this index, and the morphometrics (Klt and CFA), express different information. All correlations were statistically significant but greatest coefficients were established between morphometric indices. The total weight and the Klt index did not show differences between rainy and dry seasons. However, BRI and CFA were statistically greater in dry season, a fact that was found for each sex. Both CFA and Klt decreased slightly (P > 0.05) between the first (1963-1964) and the second (1983-1993) period and then increased (P < 0.05) in the current period (2011-2017). Because they both are morphometric indices, this was attributed to the presence of greater weight lobsters. Conclusions: The lowest values in 2017 and gradually decreasing trend in BRI, corroborate the generalized nature of the environmental deterioration in the Gulf of Batabanó, but this was not equally expressed by the three indices.

Keywords: spiny lobster, nutritional indices, morphophysiological indicators, Batabanó