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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 382:87-98 (2009)  -  DOI:

Repeatable sediment associations of burrowing bivalves across six European tidal flat systems

Tanya J. Compton1,2,3,5,*, Tineke A. Troost1, Jan Drent1, Casper Kraan1,2, Pierrick Bocher4, Jutta Leyrer1,2, Anne Dekinga1, Theunis Piersma1,2

1Department of Marine Ecology, Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ), PO Box 59, 1790 AB Den Burg, Texel, The Netherlands
2Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Studies, University of Groningen, PO Box 14, 9750 AA Haren, The Netherlands
3Western Australian Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC), WA Wildlife Research Centre, PO Box 51, Wanneroo, Western Australia 6065, Australia
4Littoral Environnement et Sociétés, UMR6250, Université de La Rochelle—CNRS, 17000 La Rochelle, France
5Present address: National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research, PO Box 11115, Gate 10 Silverdale Road, Hamilton 3216, New Zealand

ABSTRACT: Burrowing bivalves are associated with particular sediment types within sedimentary systems. The degree to which bivalve sediment associations are repeatable across systems has seldom been investigated. To investigate whether such repeatability exists across tidal flats, we compared adult and juvenile distributions of 3 bivalve species (Cerastoderma edule, Scrobicularia plana, Macoma balthica) across 6 European tidal flats. Across systems, the adult bivalves showed fairly repeatable distributions, with C. edule occurring in sandy sediments and M. balthica and S. plana occurring in muddy sediments. Exceptions were observed in systems composed primarily of muddy sediments (Aiguillon Bay and Marennes-Oléron Bay) and the Dutch Wadden Sea. Interestingly, juveniles and adults of C. edule and S. plana showed similar distributions across systems. M. balthica juveniles and adults showed habitat separation in 3 of the 6 studied systems; in 2 of these, it has been shown previously that juvenile M. balthica settle in mud at high tidal levels and migrate to lower sandier flats later in life. The high occurrence of juvenile M. balthica towards high sandy flats in Mont Saint-Michel Bay suggests that juveniles might choose high tidal flats rather than muddy sediments per se. A repeatable association in adults and juveniles with respect to sediment could suggest that juveniles actively settle in the proximity of the adults and/or that juveniles settling away from the adults incur a higher mortality due to either predation, physiological stress, or other factors.

KEY WORDS: Habitat suitability model · Species distribution · Logistic regression · German Wadden Sea · The Wash

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Cite this article as: Compton TJ, Troost TA, Drent J, Kraan C and others (2009) Repeatable sediment associations of burrowing bivalves across six European tidal flat systems. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 382:87-98.

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