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Population dynamics of the endangered fan mussel Pinna nobilis in a marine lake: a metapopulation matrix modeling approach
Katsanevakis, S. (2009). Population dynamics of the endangered fan mussel Pinna nobilis in a marine lake: a metapopulation matrix modeling approach. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 156(8): 1715-1732.
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Katsanevakis, S.

    A metapopulation, time-invariant, stage-classified matrix model was developed to assess the dynamics of an important Pinna nobilis population in the marine Lake Vouliagmeni (Korinthiakos Gulf, Greece). The main aim of the study was to provide insight on the life cycle of the fan mussel and reveal influential factors for its population dynamics, with a special focus on the effect of poaching. The size of the fan mussel shell was selected as a state variable, and the model consisted of five size classes. The lake was divided in two regions, a shallow region of high (illegal) fishing mortality and high recruitment (region 1) and a deeper region of low mortality and low recruitment (region 2). The estimation of the transition matrix (stage-specific growth and mortality probabilities) was based on a tagging survey between 2005 and 2006, while independent annual surveys for abundance estimation using distance sampling techniques were utilized for the estimation of recruitment and stage-specific fertilities. The population was found to be increasing with an intrinsic rate of increase r = 0.038; however, r was not statistically different from zero. The life expectancy and expected lifetime offspring production of individuals in region 1 was markedly lower than that of individuals in region 2. Due to poaching, the life expectancy of a yearling fan mussel was less than 2.5 years in region 1, while it was almost 12 years in region 2. The highest expected annual natural mortality of fan mussels occurred on their first year of life after settlement (~43%) and greatly declined at greater sizes. Perturbation analysis revealed that the population growth rate was most sensitive to the vital rates of the larger size classes in region 2 and to fertilities corresponding to offspring that settled in the same region. The spatial distribution and abundance of the species was greatly dependent on the extent of poaching, which caused a size segregation of individuals, with small and young individuals being abundant in region 1, and larger and older individuals being restricted in region 2. If poaching ceased, the fan mussel population would be increasing with a significantly higher intrinsic rate of increase (r = 0.186), while if region 2 was also illegally exploited at the same intensity as region 1, the fan mussel population would be decreasing with r = -0.364 and would eventually collapse. The existence of refuge areas, where fan mussels may grow and reproduce, providing adjacent areas with offspring, seems crucial for the viability of local populations. Transplantation of fan mussels from high mortality areas to low mortality refuges might prove to be an effective measure to protect local populations of the species.

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