Population dynamics of subtidal blue mussels Mytilus edulis and the impact of cultivation

J. Capelle*, Marnix Van Stralen, J.W.M. Wijsman, Peter M.J. Herman, A.C. Smaal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Fishery on subtidal mussel beds and subsequent relying on culture plots in the same system is a common practice in bottom mussel culture. We address factors that determine the population dynamics of subtidal blue mussels Mytilus edulis L. and to what extent total (natural plus cultured) subtidal mussel biomass in the system is affected by fishery practices. Mussel size and density of spatially segregated natural and cultured subtidal mussel populations in the western
Wadden Sea were measured over time in 2 field studies. Spatial patterns in survival rates showed better spat survival in areas with lower salinity and lower density of sea stars Asterias rubens. This suggests that mussel survival is negatively related to sea star distribution which is to a large extent
controlled by salinity. The Asterias−Mytilus relation in the Wadden Sea is an example of the concept that environmental stress determines the successes of the prey by affecting the prey− predator relationship. Natural beds that escape predation are found at lower salinities, and mussels on these beds showed low growth rates, also because of lower food quality in these areas. Mussel culture is strongly affecting the population dynamics of the subtidal mussel population,
through relay of mussels from natural mussel beds to culture plots. This activity increases mussel growth and survival, because food quality on culture plots is high and predation is controlled. Despite harvesting, mussel biomass production on culture plots was higher than on natural mussel beds, enhancing total subtidal mussel stock.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-168
JournalAquaculture Environment Interactions
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Ecosystem goods and services
  • Salinity
  • Asterias rubens
  • Sea star
  • Aquaculture impact
  • Sampling Bottom culture
  • Wadden Sea


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