Nutrient regeneration by mussel Mytilus edulis spat assemblages in a macrotidal system

W. van Broekhoven, K. Troost, H.M. Jansen, A.C. Smaal

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16 Citations (Scopus)


Besides exercising grazing control over phytoplankton populations, suspension-feeding bivalves can also stimulate carrying capacity by regeneration of nutrients. This study provides new data on nutrient uptake and release dynamics, and potential implications for availability and stoichiometry of nutrients, for Mytilus edulis spat collectors in the Netherlands. Uptake and release rates were measured in situ on intact spat collector ropes in a eutrophic macrotidal system in relation to development of ropes in terms of mussel biomass and associated components (fauna, flora, and organic material). There was a good fit between uptake/release rates and mussel weight based on allometric scaling functions, despite the occurrence of a substantial biomass of associated fauna, flora and organic matter on ropes. On a unit biomass basis, nutrient release rates were much higher than reported in other studies, which we attribute to greater activity of small mussels. Accounting for greater weight-specific activity of small mussels, spat collectors released more P than reported for other systems. We show that spat collectors can affect relative availabilities of N, P and Si, and we show that SMCs (Seed Mussel Collectors) likely stimulated phytoplankton production through regeneration of N and of Si, which were at limiting concentrations at different points in time. In the case of Si, stimulation would be restricted to diatoms. We conclude that SMCs are able to stimulate phytoplankton production rates, and thereby carrying capacity, and are able to influence phytoplankton composition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-46
JournalJournal of Sea Research
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • la-madeleine quebec
  • seasonal-variation
  • biogeochemical fluxes
  • oosterschelde estuary
  • carrying-capacity
  • nitrogen
  • rates
  • phytoplankton
  • aquaculture
  • budgets


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