Effect of seeding density on biomass production in mussel bottom culture

Jacob J. Capelle*, Jeroen W.M. Wijsman, Marnix R. Van Stralen, Peter M.J. Herman, Aad C. Smaal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Effects of seeding density on biomass production in mussel bottom culture are investigated by detailed monitoring of culture practice in the western Wadden Sea, The Netherlands. The seeds originate from different sources. The seeds differ in size and farmers apply seeding techniques dependent on the seed size resulting in different seed densities on the culture plots. We hypothesise growth to be density dependent and that biomass production is primarily determined by survival and is therefore a function of seed density which is related to the activities of the farmers. Data was collected from 42 different culture plots over a three year period (June 2009-June 2012). During this period, 66 sub-populations were followed from seeding until harvest. Seeding at the start of the culture resulted in an instantaneous drop in biomass production, caused by large losses in mussel number. These losses were on average 42% of the mussels seeded. This seeding loss decreased with mussel size and increased with seeding density. A subsequent density dependent loss of 1.8 mussels per day was found for smaller mussels (<30 mm), and a non-density dependent loss of 0.8 mussels per day for larger mussels (> 30 mm) during grow out. Overall loss from seeding to harvest was high, from 92% for the smallest seeds collected from spat collectors, to 54% for half-grown mussels fished from natural beds in the spring. No indication was found that growth or mussel condition was affected by culture plot scale density. Growth was dependent on mussel size and age, and this largely determined the differences in biomass production between seed sources. The density dependent seeding loss associated with seeding activities largely determined survival, and hence overall biomass production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-15
JournalJournal of Sea Research
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Growth
  • Mortality
  • Mussel seed
  • Mytilus edulis
  • Population dynamics
  • Wadden Sea


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