MEPS 199:149-158 (2000)  -  doi:10.3354/meps199149

Energy balance of mussels Mytilus galloprovincialis: the effect of length and age

Alejandro Pérez Camacho1,*, Uxio Labarta2, Enrique Navarro3

1Instituto Español de Oceanografía, Centro Costero, Aptdo. 130, 15001 La Coruña, Spain
2CSIC, Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas, c/Eduardo Cabello 6, 36208 Vigo, Spain
3Dpto de Biología Animal y Genética, Universidad del País Vasco. Aptdo. 644, 48080 Bilbao, Spain

ABSTRACT: Clearance and ingestion rates, absorption efficiencies and respiration rates were measured in mussels Mytilus galloprovincialis Lmk of different lengths (53 to 89 mm) and age (10 to 24 mo) from cultivation rafts in the Ría de Arosa (Galicia, Spain). The experiments were carried out either in the laboratory, using monoalgal food (Isochrysis galbana) with an organic content of 91%, or under natural conditions of food availability in cultivation rafts with seston, the organic content of which ranged from 33 to 69%. Food concentrations ranged from 0.57 to 1.00 mg l-1 of total particulate matter (TPM), a load which is below the threshold for the production of pseudofaeces in Mytilus. These experiments proved that the ingestion rate (IR = mg TPM h-1) of food increases with the size of the mussel (measured as g of soft-tissue dry weight [DW]) according to the power equation IR = 12.661DW0.619, this model accounting for over 90% of the variance of the IR. Behavioural patterns that tended to maintain constant IR regardless of the density of the food were observed. Absorption efficiency (AE) is positively related to the organic content (OC) of the food according to the following hyperbolic equation: AE = 1.015 - 0.163(1/OC) (r = 0.940). AE is independent of mussel size for most of the size range used in this study, but there is a critical length around 85 mm, above which there is a noticeable decrease of AE. Metabolic expenditure, measured in terms of oxygen consumption standarized per unit of dry weight of flesh, tends to increase with the age of the mussel. The results obtained led to the conclusion that physiological traits such as the regulation of ingestion or differences in AE between groups do not explain the differences in growth between mussels of the same age. These differences must therefore be due to the limited food and space available as a result of the large numbers of mussels on the cultivation rafts and the agglomeration of mussels on the cultivation ropes.

KEY WORDS: Mytilus · Ingestion rate · Respiration · Absorption efficiency · Food quality

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