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MEPS
Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 463:193-204 (2012)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps09859

New estimates of early post-settlement mortality for intertidal mussels show no relationship with meso-scale coastline topographic features

Charles E. O. von der Meden1, 2,*, Francesca Porri1, Christopher D. McQuaid1

1Coastal Research Group, Department of Zoology and Entomology, Rhodes University, Grahamstown 6140, South Africa
2Present address: South African Environmental Observation Network, Egagasini Node, 5th flr Foretrust Building, Martin Hammerschlag Way, Cape Town, Private Bag X2, Roggebaai 8012, South Africa

ABSTRACT: For organisms with planktonic larvae, the early post-settlement stage is a particularly vulnerable one, likely to influence distribution patterns in subsequent life stages. Although substantial post-settlement mortality is well known in several marine invertebrate taxa (e.g. barnacles), few estimates exist for benthic invertebrates, such as mussels, that have mobile settlers. Furthermore, estimates of early post-settlement mortality (within 2 d of settlement) are sparse for most groups. In addressing the difficulties involved with quantifying early mortality of mobile settlers, the present study builds on a sequential-deployment method to estimate the post-settlement mortality of the intertidal mussel Perna perna. Trials were run at 16 sites, split evenly between bay and open coast locations, and were repeated over 2 sampling cycles. By comparing post-settlement mortality estimates from bays and open coast sites, we investigated whether such topographic features produce differential mortality. Post-settlement mortality estimates showed substantial levels of mortality but did not differ significantly between bay and open coast sites. Early post-settlement mortality (i.e. mortality of primary settlers up to 2 d old) ranged from 31 to 94% but averaged 54 and 64% in the 2 sampling cycles. Estimates of total post-settlement mortality (i.e. inclusive of primary and secondary settlers) had a similar range and averaged 66% in Cycle 1 and 67% in Cycle 2. Apart from confirming significant mortality rates of early mussel settlers, these findings suggest that intertidal abundance patterns of recruits and adults, often associated with topographic features of coastlines, are more likely a result of initial settlement patterns than of differences in post-settlement mortality.


KEY WORDS: Post-settlement mortality · Coastline topography · Bays · Perna perna · Intertidal mussels · Pelagic-benthic coupling


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Cite this article as: von der Meden CEO, Porri F, McQuaid CD (2012) New estimates of early post-settlement mortality for intertidal mussels show no relationship with meso-scale coastline topographic features. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 463:193-204. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps09859

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