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Temporal consistency of spatial pattern in growth of the mussel, Mytilus edulis: Implications for predictive modelling

Journal article
Authors Per Bergström
Susanne Lindegarth
Mats Lindegarth
Published in Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science
Volume 131
Pages 93-102
ISSN 0272-7714
Publication year 2013
Published at Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Tjärnö Marine Biological Laboratory
Pages 93-102
Language en
Keywords Ecosystem function, Growth, Mytilus edulis, Prediction, Variability, coastal zone, ecological footprint, empirical analysis, farming system, GIS, growth rate, mussel culture, productivity, spatiotemporal analysis
Subject categories Marine ecology


Human pressures on coastal seas are increasing and methods for sustainable management, including spatial planning and mitigative actions, are therefore needed. In coastal areas worldwide, the development of mussel farming as an economically and ecologically sustainable industry requires geographic information on the growth and potential production capacity. In practice this means that coherent maps of temporally stable spatial patterns of growth need to be available in the planning process and that maps need to be based on mechanistic or empirical models. Therefore, as a first step towards development of models of growth, we assessed empirically the fundamental requirement that there are temporally consistent spatial patterns of growth in the blue mussel, Mytilus edulis. Using a pilot study we designed and dimensioned a transplant experiment, where the spatial consistency in the growth of mussels was evaluated at two resolutions. We found strong temporal and scale-dependent spatial variability in growth but patterns suggested that spatial patterns were uncoupled between growth of shell and that of soft tissue. Spatial patterns of shell growth were complex and largely inconsistent among years. Importantly, however, the growth of soft tissue was qualitatively consistent among years at the scale of km. The results suggest that processes affecting the whole coastal area cause substantial differences in growth of soft tissue among years but that factors varying at the scale of km create strong and persistent spatial patterns of growth, with a potential doubling of productivity by identifying the most suitable locations. We conclude that the observed spatial consistency provides a basis for further development of predictive modelling and mapping of soft tissue growth in these coastal areas. Potential causes of observed patterns, consequences for mussel-farming as a tool for mitigating eutrophication, aspects of precision of modelling and sampling of mussel growth as well as ecological functions in general are discussed. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

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