MEPS 345:129-140 (2007)  -  doi:10.3354/meps06951

Mussel zonation in New Zealand: an integrative eco-physiological approach

Bruce A. Menge1,*, Bryon A. Daley2, Eric Sanford3, Elizabeth P. Dahlhoff4, Jane Lubchenco1

1Department of Zoology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon 97331-2914, USA
2Section of Ecology and Systematics, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14850, USA
3Section of Evolution and Ecology, University of California Davis, Bodega Marine Laboratory, Bodega Bay, California 94923, USA
4Department of Biology and Center for Environmental Studies, Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, California 95053, USA

ABSTRACT: Environmental stress and productivity models for community dynamics assume that the ecological responses of species are based on sub-organismal (physiological, cellular, molecular) mechanisms. Early tests of these models did not incorporate evaluation of physiological responses. Advances in remote sensing and molecular biology now allow more mechanistic and integrative approaches. In this study, we employed between-zone translocation experiments to test the effects of environmental stress and feeding time on the zonation of 2 species of mussel on rocky shores in New Zealand. Response variables were survival, shell growth, relative tissue mass, and short-term capacity for protein synthesis (indexed by RNA:DNA ratios). We predicted that the ecological and physiological performance of both mussels should increase with depth on the vertical tidal axis, but that the low-zone-dominant Perna canaliculus should perform relatively better than the mid-zone-dominant Mytilus galloprovincialis lower on the shore and at the more wave-exposed site. In contrast, we predicted that mid-zone-dominant M. galloprovincialis should perform relatively better than P. canaliculus higher on the shore and at the less wave-exposed site. Collectively, the ecological and molecular responses supported many, but not all of our predictions. As expected, P. canaliculus out- performed M. galloprovincialis in the more wave-swept and lower shore habitats, and showed lower tolerance of the stressful conditions that prevail higher on the shore, suggesting that the zonation pattern was based on differential responses to stress and food environments.

KEY WORDS: Mussels · New Zealand · Zonation · Eco-physiology · Field experiments · Molecular indices

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Cite this article as: Menge BA, Daley BA, Sanford E, Dahlhoff EP, Lubchenco J (2007) Mussel zonation in New Zealand: an integrative eco-physiological approach. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 345:129-140

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