MEPS 540:121-134 (2015)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps11461

Depth-related spatial patterns of sublittoral blue mussel beds and their associated macrofaunal diversity revealed by geostatistical analyses

Eliecer R. Díaz1,4,*, Johan Erlandsson1,5, Mats Westerbom2, Patrik Kraufvelin3,5

1Department of Systems Ecology, Stockholm University, Svante Arrhenius V 21A, 10691 Stockholm, Sweden
2Metsähallitus, Natural Heritage Services, PO Box 94, 01301 Vantaa, Finland
3Environmental and Marine Biology, Department of Biosciences, Åbo Akademi University, Artillerigatan 6, 20520 Åbo/Turku, Finland
4Present address: Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, PO Box 65 (Viikinkaari 1), 00014 Helsinki, Finland
5Present address: Department of Aquatic Resources, Institute of Coastal Research, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Skolgatan 6, 74242 Öregrund, Sweden
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The blue mussel Mytilus edulis is a foundation species with ecosystem engineering functions in the brackish, non-tidal Baltic Sea. In this study from the western Gulf of Finland, the relationship between the spatial patchiness of blue mussels and the diversity of associated macrofauna was examined across small scales (centimeters to meters) for the first time in subtidal habitats. It was demonstrated using geostatistical tools that blue mussel abundance and the diversity of associated macrofauna varied and interacted at 2 depths. Classic analyses (ANOVAs, correlations and multivariate techniques) detected no relationships between the abundance of blue mussels and their associated macrofaunal diversity, or differences in the abundance of mussels or the diversity of associated macrofauna between depths. Using semivariograms, differences in spatial heterogeneity between depths emerged: i.e. patchiness at 5 m and random patterns at 8 m depth. Cross-semivariograms detected negative spatial co-variation between blue mussel abundance and diversity of macrofauna at 5 m, but positive and neutral spatial relationships at 8 m depth. Combining the approaches suggested that high dislodgment of mussels in shallow environments causes this pattern. Dislodgement effects may be compensated for by increased turnover of small mussels in patches within mussel beds, which would result in reduced habitat space for associated macrofauna. On the basis of our results, it is suggested that patchiness of a foundation species is an ecological response, or result of a disturbance, that reduces the diversity of the associated macrofaunal community.


KEY WORDS: Foundation species · Blue mussels · Baltic Sea · Biodiversity · Fractal dimension · Semivariogram · Cross-semivariogram · Spatial heterogeneity


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Cite this article as: Díaz ER, Erlandsson J, Westerbom M, Kraufvelin P (2015) Depth-related spatial patterns of sublittoral blue mussel beds and their associated macrofaunal diversity revealed by geostatistical analyses. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 540:121-134. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps11461

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