The Norway lobster Nephrops norvegicus lives at low-light depths, in muddy substrata of high organic content where water salinities are high and fluctuations in temperature are moderate. In this environment, the lobsters are naturally exposed to a number of potential stressors, many of them as a result of the surficial breakdown of organic material in the sediment. This process (early diagenesis) creates a heterogeneous environment with temporal and spatial fluctuations in a number of compounds such as oxygen, ammonia, metals, and hydrogen sulphide. In addition to this, there are anthropogenically generated stressors, such as human-induced climate change (resulting in elevated temperature and ocean acidification), pollution and fishing. The lobsters are thus exposed to several stressors, which are strongly linked to the habitat in which the animals live. Here, the capacity of Nephrops to deal with these stressors is summarised. Eutrophication-induced hypoxia and subsequent metal remobilisation from the sediment is a well-documented effect found in some wild Nephrops populations. Compared to many other crustacean species, Nephrops is well adapted to tolerate periods of hypoxia, but prolonged or severe hypoxia, beyond their tolerance level, is common in some areas. When the oxygen concentration in the environment decreases, the bioavailability of redox-sensitive metals such as manganese increases. Manganese is an essential metal, which, taken up in excess, has a toxic effect on several internal systems such as chemosensitivity, nerve transmission and immune defence. Since sediment contains high concentrations of metals in comparison to sea water, lobsters may accumulate both essential and non-essential metals. Different metals have different target tissues, though the hepatopancreas, in general, accumulates high concentrations of most metals. The future scenario of increasing anthropogenic influences on Nephrops habitats may have adverse effects on the fitness of the animals.
Eriksson S. P., Hernroth B. & Baden S. P., 2013. Chapter five – stress biology and immunology in Nephrops norvegicus. Advances in Marine Biology 64: 149–200. Article (subscription required).