Processes limiting mussel bed restoration in the Wadden Sea

H. de Paoli, J. van de Koppel, E. van der Zee, A.K. Kangeri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


This paper reports on experimental restoration of mussel beds in the Wadden Sea and the processes that might limit successful restoration of this foundation species (i.e. substrate, predation, hydrodynamics). The importance of substrate, predation, hydrodynamic conditions and location on mussel restoration success was studied using artificially created mussel beds. Experimental beds established on a stable substrate (coir net) were compared with control beds established on sand, at three locations in the Wadden Sea. Their persistence was followed over time. The results revealed a near disappearance of all experimental beds in just over 7 months. Providing a stable substrate did not improve mussel survival. Predation could not explain the disappearance of the beds, as the maximal predation rate by birds was found to be insufficient to have a significant effect on mussel cover. Differences in wave conditions alone could also not explain the variation in decline of mussel cover between the locations. However, the gradual disappearance of mussels from the seaward side of the bed strongly suggested that hydrodynamic conditions (i.e. combined effects of waves and current) played an important role in the poor persistence of the artificial beds. Our results highlight the fact that restoration of mussel beds in dynamic areas cannot simply be implemented bymussel transplantation, particularly if additional measures to prevent wave losses are not taken, even when artificial substrate is provided to facilitate mussel adhesion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-49
JournalJournal of Sea Research
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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