AEI 6:175-183 (2015)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/aei00123

Influence of mussel aquaculture on the distribution of vagile benthic macrofauna in îles de la Madeleine, eastern Canada

Annick Drouin1,2,*, Philippe Archambault2, Brianna Clynick1,2, Karine Richer1, Christopher W. McKindsey1,2 

1Institut Maurice Lamontagne, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 850 route de la mer, Mont-Joli, Québec G5H 3Z4, Canada
2Institut des sciences de la mer, Université du Québec à Rimouski, 310 allée des Ursulines, Rimouski, Québec G5L 3A1, Canada
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: We examined spatial variation in the abundance of 4 benthic vagile species in a lagoon with blue mussel Mytilus edulis aquaculture (inside vs. outside of the mussel lease; among areas with 1 yr old, 2 yr old and harvested mussels; and with distance from mussel lines). American lobster Homarus americanus, Atlantic rock crab Cancer irroratus, common starfish Asterias rubens and winter flounder Pseudopleuronectes americanus were all at least 3 times more abundant in the farm area with 2 yr old mussels, where mussel fall-off is more frequent, than in areas outside of the farm or other areas within the farm. A strong association of lobsters with mussel line structures was observed, where most individuals were observed directly under the mussel lines, close to anchor blocks, in the areas with 1 yr old, 2 yr old and harvested mussels (58, 42 and 57%, respectively). Mussel farms influence the distribution of benthic macrofauna at a number of spatial and temporal scales, and this may be due to a number of mechanisms, depending on the species. An in situ experiment was done to separate the influence of anchor blocks and mussel fall-off on the distribution of lobsters, crabs, starfish and flounders. Results of the manipulative experiment highlighted the importance of shelter structures over a short-term period for lobsters, but not for the other 3 species. Conclusions from the observations and the manipulative experiment suggest that lobster distribution is a function of both physical structure and feeding opportunities, whereas the distribution of the other species was mainly due to trophic effects.


KEY WORDS: Mytilus edulis · Homarus americanus · Cancer irroratus · Asterias rubens · Pseudopleuronectes americanus · Spatial variation · Environmental impact


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Cite this article as: Drouin A, Archambault P, Clynick B, Richer K, McKindsey CW (2015) Influence of mussel aquaculture on the distribution of vagile benthic macrofauna in îles de la Madeleine, eastern Canada. Aquacult Environ Interact 6:175-183. https://doi.org/10.3354/aei00123

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