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Blue mussels Mytilus edulis do not interfere with eelgrass Zostera marina but fertilize shoot growth through biodeposition
Reusch, Th.B.H.; Chapman, A.R.O.; Gröger, J. (1994). Blue mussels Mytilus edulis do not interfere with eelgrass Zostera marina but fertilize shoot growth through biodeposition. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 108: 265-282
In: Marine Ecology Progress Series. Inter-Research: Oldendorf/Luhe. ISSN 0171-8630, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keywords
    Baltic Sea; Mytilus Linnaeus, 1758 [WoRMS]; Zostera Linnaeus, 1753 [WoRMS]; Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Reusch, Th.B.H.
  • Chapman, A.R.O.
  • Gröger, J.

Abstract
    Blue mussels Mytilus edulis L. and eelgrass Zostera marina L. commonly co-occur in mixed stands at sheltered sites of the Western Baltic. The effects of mussels on density, vegetative propagation and growth of eelgrass were tested experimentally. Mussels were either added to Z. marina patches or removed from existing Zostera/Mytilus associations. We found no effect of these experimental manipulations on the shoot density of Z. marina from April to October. Likewise, observatlons on a series of permanent plots over 1 growth period showed that adjacent mussel patches did not impede the vegetative propagation of eelgrass patches. Instead of damaging eelgrass by interference competition, mussels enhance eelgrass growth. At the end of August, plants in the M. edulis addition treatment had a 36% higher leaf area than the controls, whereas mussel removal led to an area decrease of 16% compared to the controls. Since, at the same time, the sedlment porewater concentrations of ammonium and phosphate doubled in presence of M. edulis, we infer that Z. marina is nutrient-limited in the sandy, organically poor sediments of the shallow subtidal zone. M. edulis facilitates Z. marina by the biodeposition of organic material via faeces and pseudofaeces. A correlation between porewater ammonium concentration and plant size supports the contention that nitrogen is growth limiting. In contrast, no relationship was found between porewater phosphate concentration and plant size.

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