Adult-Larval Interactions: Predictions, Mussels, and Cocoons

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Department 1

Environmental Studies


The purpose of this investigation was to test two hypotheses regarding adultlarval interactions in dense assemblages of suspension feeders. Benthic communities outside and inside a dense population of the mussel Mytilus edulis were sampled at a New England soft-bottom intertidal flat. The hypothesis that recruitment of M. edulis is inhibited by the presence of densely packed adults was not supported. Mytilus edulis population size-class structure revealed no dominance of large individuals, indicating that older cohorts were not able to prevent subsequent mussel recruitment. The hypothesis that M. edulis has a negative effect on the recruitment of other infaunal species was not supported. Infaunal density was significantly higher inside the mussel bed than outside. Oligochaete worms were the most common organisms at the study site and had higher absolute and relative abundances inside the mussel bed. The production of cocoons and dispersal of non-larval benthic offspring may confer upon the oligochaetes relative immunity from M. edulis ingestion and suffocation in mussel feces and pseudofeces. These results may be extended to other infaunal species, including densely packed suspension feeders themselves, which form cocoons, fragment asexually, brood, or disperse as juveniles and adults.


Original version is available from the publisher at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/027277148790117X



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