Passive settlement of Macoma balthica spat on tidal flats of the Wadden Sea and subsequent migration of juveniles

Werner.Armonies [ at ]


Spatfall of the tellinid bivalve Macoma balthica may occur in fine-grained sediments at different tidal elevations in the Wadden Sea, but it is not clear which mechanism (active habitat selection or passive sinking of larvae, or both) can explain the observed distribution pattern. Spatfall and the subsequent development of juvenile abundances and size distribution were studied along a transect in the northern Wadden Sea near the Island of Sylt. Initial spatfall was highest in the lower intertidal and correlated significantly with hydrographic parameters. The enhanced larval settlement observed in dense aggregates of the tube-building polychaete Lanice conchilega confirmed the prominent role of hydrographic factors in initial spatfall. Subsequently, abundance strongly decreased in the lower intertidal but increased in the upper intertidal due to immigration of newly settled spat from lower sites. By the end of October, abundance was higher in the upper intertidal. Growth of the juveniles was higher in the upper intertidal. It is suggested that (1) initial spatfall is mainly ruled by hydrographic factors without active sediment selection; (2) young Macoma remain highly mobile during the first weeks of their benthic life and by byssus drift may achieve a net transport into areas with weak initial spatfall; (3) at the end of their first winter a second period of high floating activity occurs, bringing them back towards the lower intertidal and shallow subtidal. Thus, by successive postlarval migrations Macoma may several times change the intertidal site occupied during their first year of life. The comparatively low interannual variability of recruitment success noted in this species in the Wadden Sea may be a result of these migrations.

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DOI 10.1016/0077-7579(92)90076-Q

Cite as
Armonies, W. and Hellwig-Armonies, M. (1992): Passive settlement of Macoma balthica spat on tidal flats of the Wadden Sea and subsequent migration of juveniles , Netherlands Journal of Sea Research, 29 (4), pp. 371-378 . doi: 10.1016/0077-7579(92)90076-Q

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