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Modeling and predicting the growth of the mussel, Mytilus edulis: implications for planning of aquaculture and eutrophication mitigation

Journal article
Authors Per Bergström
Susanne Lindegarth
Mats Lindegarth
Published in Ecology and Evolution
Volume 5
Issue 24
Pages 5920-5933
ISSN 2045-7758
Publication year 2015
Published at Department of marine sciences
Pages 5920-5933
Language en
Keywords Bivalve, ecosystem function, growth, mapping, marine spatial planning, Mytilus edulis, predictive modeling
Subject categories Marine ecology


The increased pressure on the marine ecosystems highlights the need for policies and integrated approaches for sustainable management of coastal areas. Spatial planning based on geographic information of human activities, ecological structures and functions, and their associated goods and services is a fundamental component in this context. Here, we evaluate the potential of predictive modeling to provide spatial data on one ecosystem function, mussel growth for use in such processes. We developed a methodology based on statistical modeling, spatial prediction, and mapping for the relative growth of the blue mussel, Mytilus edulis. We evaluated the performance of different modeling techniques and classification schemes using empirical measurements of growth from 144 sampling sites and data on biological, chemical, and physical predictors. Following comparisons of the different techniques and schemes, we developed random forest models to predict growth along the Swedish west coast. Implemented into GIS the best model produced in this study predicts that low, intermediate, and high growth rates can be expected in 53%, 32%, and 15% of modeled area, respectively. The results of this study also suggest that the nature and quality of predictor data hold the key to improving the predictive power of models. On a more general note, this study exemplifies a feasible approach based on measuring, modeling, and mapping for obtaining scientifically based spatial information on ecosystem functions and services affected by a complex set of factors. Such information is fundamental for maritime spatial planning and ecosystem-based management and its importance is likely to increase in the future. Because of its close link to nutrient assimilation and production yield, site-specific information of soft tissue growth such as the map of predicted growth rate developed in this study can be used as a tool for optimizing actions aimed at mitigating eutrophication and aquaculture operations and in maritime spatial planning processes of coastal areas.

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