This study identified and quantified in the field the natural predators of juvenile spiny lobster Jasus frontalis, an endemic, ecologically relevant species, and the most valuable local commercial catch of Robinson Crusoe Island. It also assessed the predation pressure that these predators exerted on juveniles lobsters and whether they showed preferences for particular body sizes within the juvenile size range. A series of tethering experiments were performed in three coastal sites of Robinson Crusoe Island (Juan Fernández archipelago. Chile). In overnight experiments, survival of juveniles decreased over time in all three sites, reaching ∼50% at the end of the experiment. The evidence suggests that fish were relevant predators since mortality of lobsters was proportional to their abundance. Although video surveillances depicted numerous octopus attacks, their abundance did not exhibit a statistically significant relationship with lobster mortality. Predatory events were not selective of juvenile sizes. These results are fundamental to understand one of the key factor (i.e., predation) that affects the juvenile (and more vulnerable) benthic phase of J. frontalis.
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Vol. 34 • No. 3