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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 282:185-191 (2004)  -  doi:10.3354/meps282185

Effects of a commercial mussel Mytilus edulis lay on a sublittoral, soft sediment benthic community

Julie Smith*, Susan E. Shackley

School of Biological Sciences, University of Wales Swansea, Singleton Park, Swansea SA2 8PP, UK

ABSTRACT: A commercial mussel Mytilus edulis lay was established in 1998 in western inner Swansea Bay (Wales, UK) in a shallow, sublittoral, high tidal energy environment, on a substrate which previously supported a diverse inshore, sand/muddy sand benthic community. Within a year of commencement of this fishery, a significant change in the species composition of the benthic community occurred, with a decrease in the number of species and in the total number of individuals. The abundance of carnivorous and deposit feeding benthic species increased, whilst the mussels out-competed other benthic filter feeding organisms, preventing the settlement of these organisms by ingestion of the larvae, and removed other benthic organisms by physical smothering.

KEY WORDS: Mussel lay · Benthos · Community effects · Coastal waters

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