MEPS 198:131-137 (2000)  -  doi:10.3354/meps198131

Mussels Mytilus edulis: significant consumers and destroyers of mesozooplankton

John Davenport*, Rowan J. J. W. Smith, Margaret Packer

University Marine Biological Station Millport, Millport KA28 0EG, Isle of Cumbrae, Scotland, UK
*Present address: Department of Zoology & Animal Ecology, University College Cork, Lee Maltings, Prospect Row, Cork, Ireland. E-mail:

ABSTRACT: This study tested the hypothesis that mesozooplankton, particularly crustaceans, inhaled by mussels Mytilus edulis (L.) would be killed by ingestion, or by incorporation into pseudofaeces. Crustaceans were expected to be vulnerable because they cannot rid themselves of mucus. Field and laboratory evidence is presented to show that mussels ingest most mesozooplankton present in inhaled sea water, that some of the material is triturated in the stomach between crystalline style and gastric shield, and that energy can be extracted from a diet of Artemia sp. indicating a degree of carnivory. Gastric processing of Œprey¹ animals is rapid (<40 min at 15 to 20°C). Molluscs and crustaceans are commonest Œprey¹. Animals <3 to 6 mm length are ingested. Inhaled but non-ingested crustaceans become mucus-bound and are expelled in pseudofaecal particles; such animals are dead or moribund.


KEY WORDS: Mussels · Mesozooplankton · Carnivory · Pseudofaeces · Mucus


Full text in pdf format