Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Virginia Institute of Marine Science


Romuald N. Lipcius


In this dissertation, I experimentally examine predation-induced mortality upon juvenile queen conch, Strombus gigas, and assess the importance of select habitat predator and conch characteristics affecting predation intensity. Experiments were conducted during the summer and early fall of 1987, 1988, 1990 and 1991 in seagrass beds and adjacent sand flats near Lee Stocking Island, Exuma Cays, Bahamas. These experiments indicate that various factors act interactively to produce habitat-specific mortality rates in queen conch due to predation. These include (1) habitat type, whereby seagrass beds offer some protection; (2) local population dynamics, such that populated seagrass beds appear to enhance conch survival; (3) population density in some seagrass beds, such that mortality is inversely density-dependent; (4) conch size, such that larger conch have higher survival rates, depending on the specific type of habitat; and (5) predation intensity and predator guilds, which likely differ across habitats, producing habitat-specific mortality rates. When integrated with complementary studies of queen conch trophodynamics, these results provide critical information regarding key ecological factors affecting conch survival. In particular, results from the hatchery-reared experiments demonstrate the potential use of hatchery-reared stocks in natural habitats, and hence a valuable option for enhancement of fishery stocks throughout the Caribbean. In general, the integration of results obtained in this dissertation, with complementary studies of queen conch trophodynamics, should provide valuable suggestions of queen conch habitats, densities and scales of patchiness producing highest survivorship and growth rates in nature.



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