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High survival and growth rates of introduced Pacific oysters may cause restrictions on habitat use by native mussels in the Wadden Sea.

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Diederich, S. (2006): High survival and growth rates of introduced Pacific oysters may cause restrictions on habitat use by native mussels in the Wadden Sea. , Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 328 (2), pp. 211-227 . doi: 10.1016/j.jembe.2005.07.012
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Abstract:

Pacific oysters Crassostrea gigas (Thunberg, 1793) were introduced to the northern Wadden Sea (North Sea, Germany) by aquaculture in 1986 and finally became established. Even though at first recruitment success was rare, three consecutive warmsummers led to a massive increase in oyster abundances and to the overgrowth of native mussel beds (Mytilus edulis L.). These mussels constitute biogenic reefs on the sand and mud flats in this area. Survival and growth of the invading C. gigas were investigated and compared with the native mussels in order to predict the further development of the oyster population and the scope for coexistence of both species. Field experiments revealed high survival of juvenile C. gigas (approximately 70%) during the first three months after settlement. Survival during the first winter varied between N90% during a mild and 25% during a cold winter and was independent of substrate (i.e., mussels or oysters) and tide level. Within their first year C. gigas reached a mean length of 3553 mm, and within two years they grew to 6882 mm, which is about twice the size native mussels would attain during that time. Growth of juvenile oysters was not affected by substrate (i.e., sand, mussels, and other oysters), barnacle epibionts and tide level, but was facilitated by fucoid algae. By contrast, growth of juvenile mussels was significantly higher on sand flats than on mussel or oyster beds and higher in the subtidal compared to intertidal locations. Cover with fucoid algae increased mussel growth but decreased their condition expressed as dry flesh weight versus shell weight. High survival and growth rates may compensate for years with low recruitment, and may therefore allow a fast population increase. This may lead to restrictions on habitat use by native mussels in the Wadden Sea.Keywords: Crassostrea gigas; Growth; Introduced species; Mytilus edulis; Survival; Wadden Sea

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