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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 120:147-153 (1995)  -  doi:10.3354/meps120147

Recruitment of the brown mussel Perna perna onto natural substrata: a refutation of the primary/ secondary settlement hypothesis

Lasiak, T. A., Barnard, T. C. E.

The pattern of recruitment of the brown mussel Perna perna on an exposed rocky shore on the southeast coast of South Africa between March 1991 and March 1992 is reported. The densities and population size structures of plantigrades associated with 2 natural substrata, filamentous algae and established mussel clumps, are contrasted. Mussels of <500 um shell length were present throughout the study period, but peaked in abundance during the winter months (June to September). Although the density of these early plantigrades varied with both sampling date and site, type of substratum had no effect. Late plantigrades, mussels of >0.5 to 3.5 mm shell length, reached peak abundance amidst mussel clumps in winter as opposed to spring/early summer on algal turf. Sampling date, site and type of substratum all influenced the density of late plantigrades. The size distributions of the recruits found in association with the 2 substrata differed significantly on 4 of the 11 sampling dates. The recruitment pattern of P. perna does not, therefore, conform with the generally accepted primary/secondary settlement hypothesis. The observed pattern indicates direct settlement of larvae from the plankton onto adult beds in addition to temporary attachment on filamentous algae. The relatively low intensities of recruitment observed, compared with those of other mytilids, may explain such anomalous attributes of P. perna as its lack of competitive dominance and low resilience to disturbance.

Mussel . Rocky shores . Recruitment . Settlement

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