Publications: Peer-reviewed journal articles (by staff)

Variability of growth, health, and population turnover within mussel beds of Perna canaliculus in Northern New Zealand

1 January, 2008
CITATION

Alfaro AC, Webb SC et al 2008. Variability of growth, health, and population turnover within mussel beds of Perna canaliculus in Northern New Zealand. Marine Biology Research 4(5): 376-383

ABSTRACT

The growth and health of intertidal mussel (Perna canaliculus) populations were investigated along an exposed coastline at Ninety Mile Beach, northern New Zealand. A marked and recaptured experiment of young mussels (15-35 mm in shell length) over a year at three sites resulted in significant differences in recovery rates, shell growth, condition indices, age, and degree of shell parasitism. A high recovery rate of fast growing mussels coincided with a high condition index and low shell parasitism. Conversely, a low recovery rate of slow growing populations was associated with a low condition index and a high level of shell parasitism. Anomalous shell conditions included bored shells, wear and sloughing of periostracum, shell erosion, and nacre pits and bulges. Aging of adult mussels (70-80 mm) indicates that in areas of fast population turnover rates, mussels reach adulthood in only 1.1 years compared to the 2.5-year-old mussels found in low turnover areas. These differences are attributed to variations in environmental conditions (e.g., food availability, sediment load) throughout the study area, and highlight the importance of site-specific variability for intertidal populations.