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Biodeposits from Mytilus edulis: a potentially high-quality food source for the polychaete, Hediste diversicolor

Journal article
Authors Per Bergström
Niklas Hällmark
Karl Johan Larsson
Mats Lindegarth
Published in Aquaculture International
Volume 27
Pages 89-104
ISSN 0967-6120
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of marine sciences, Tjärnö Marine Laboratory
Pages 89-104
Language en
Keywords Bioturbation, Growth, Hediste diversicolor, Mussel faeces, Mytilus edulis
Subject categories Marine ecology


Previous studies have shown clearly that the deposit feeding polychaete, Hediste diversicolor, can promote oxygenation of sediments exposed to excess loads of mussel faeces. In this experimental study, we explicitly test their utility as food for H. diversicolor to survive and grow on. Furthermore, in order to understand the consequences of experimental manipulations, we also evaluated effects on chemical fluxes in and out of the sediment. The results show strong differences in growth but no difference in short-term survival. Fed only on mussel faeces, the polychaetes grew on average 17% in wet weight after a period of 10 days, compared to 3% when given equivalent amounts of organic matter from the natural sediments. Addition of faeces to natural sediments resulted in 19–20% growth, thus suggesting an approximate additive effect of the two food sources. Chemical analyses showed that, oxygen consumption increased with load of organic material irrespective of origin, faecal material caused higher fluxes of ammonia compared to natural organic material, but neither oxygen consumption nor nutrient fluxes were affected by the ashing of sediments. In contrast, fluxes of silicate increased as a consequence of ashing but were not affected by the addition of mussel faeces. Thus, despite risks of experimental artefacts due to ashing of sediments, the results show that oxygen and nutrient dynamics responded to manipulations of organic material and not to the potential modification of sediment structure. Therefore, the observed effects on growth of H. diversicolor can be safely interpreted as caused by differences in amount and quality of organic material. Mussel faeces is a high-quality food source for this species of polychaete and, in combination with ample evidence from previous studies that bioturbation, we conclude that H. diversicolor is a suitable candidate in further efforts to develop technical solutions based on bioturbation for mitigation of adverse effects on benthic environments in connection with mussel-farming.

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