Pertubation induced changes in substrate use by the blue mussel, Mytilus edulis, in sedimentary systems

A.K. wa Kangeri, J.M. Jansen, B.R. Barkman, J. J. A. Donker, D.J. Joppe, N.M.J.A. Dankers

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For sessile benthic marine organisms adhesion to a stable substrate is important for survival. Sedimentary systems, however, generally lack stable surfaces. How sessile species like the mussel, Mytilus edulis, are able to achieve stability in unstable sediments is not fully understood. An intertidal mussel bed in the tidal flats in the Western portion of the Dutch Wadden Sea was selected to investigate adhesion behavior of M. edulis. Sampling was conducted along a hydrodynamic gradient along the Front-edge, Center and Back-edge of a mussel bed. Mussels along the bed edges were characterized by adhesion to fine shell debris and high numbers of byssus threads. Mussels in the center of the bed were characterized by adhesion to shells of living conspecifics and relatively low numbers of byssus threads. An experimental investigation to isolate the role of perturbation on adhesion strategies was carried out under laboratory conditions. Experimental results show that under perturbed conditions mussels developed increased numbers of byssus threads relative to mussels left unperturbed. Additionally, mussels subjected to perturbation preferentially adhered more frequently to fine shell debris while unperturbed mussels adhered more frequently to conspecifics. Results show that differentiation in adhesion strategy is driven by physical perturbation and mediated by bed density. The results also suggest that adhesion by mussels in a sedimentary environment is a selective process in which larger shell fragments and shells of conspecifics are the preferred substrate.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)233-240
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Sea Research
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Mussel
  • Byssus Threads
  • Perturbation
  • Adhesion
  • Substrate
  • Erosion

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