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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 447:139-149 (2012)  -  DOI:

Effects of coexistence between the blue mussel and eelgrass on sediment biogeochemistry and plant performance

Hanne Fogh Vinther1,*, Pia Norling2, Per Sand Kristensen3, Per Dolmer3, Marianne Holmer

1Institute of Biology, University of Southern Denmark, Campusvej 55, 5230 Odense M, Denmark
2Department of Systems Ecology, Stockholm University, 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
3Technical University of Denmark, National Institute of Aquatic Resources, Jægersborg Allé 1, 2920 Charlottenlund, Denmark

ABSTRACT: The habitat-modifying suspension-feeding mussel Mytilus edulis may have facilitating or inhibiting effects on seagrass meadows depending on the environmental conditions. We investigated the effects of M. edulis on sediment biogeochemistry in Zostera marina meadows under eutrophic conditions in Flensborg fjord, Denmark. Sediment and plant samples were collected at 5 stations with Z. marina (Eelgrass), 5 with Z. marina and M. edulis (Mixed), and at 2 unvegetated ones, 1 with mussels (Mussel) and 1 with sand (Sand). The Mixed sediment was en­riched in fine particles (2 to 3 times), nutrients and sulphides compared to Eelgrass stations. In­creased sediment nutrient availability at the Mixed stations was reflected in increased N and P content in eelgrass. However, the plant biomass did not differ significantly between stations, while shoot features (number of leaves and leaf area) were significantly reduced at Mixed stations, suggesting an inhibiting effect of M. edulis on Z. marina. Negative correlations between eelgrass measures and sediment sulphide at Mixed stations indicate that the presence of mussels increases sulphide invasion in the plants. A survey of 318 stations in Danish fjords suggests a threshold of 1.6 kg M. edulis m−2 beyond which no coexistence between Z. marina and M. edulis was found.

KEY WORDS: Mytilus edulis · Zostera marina · Coexistence · Eutrophication · Organic content · Total reducible sulphide · ­Seagrass · Suspension feeders

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Cite this article as: Vinther HF, Norling P, Kristensen PS, Dolmer P, Holmer M (2012) Effects of coexistence between the blue mussel and eelgrass on sediment biogeochemistry and plant performance. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 447:139-149.

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