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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 469:53-69 (2012)  -  DOI:

Species-specific abundance of bivalve larvae in relation to biological and physical conditions in a Cape Cod estuary

Christine M. Thompson1,3,*, Richard H. York2, Scott M. Gallager1

1Biology Department, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts 02543, USA
2Shellfish Constable, Town of Mashpee, Mashpee, Massachusetts 02649, USA
3Present address: University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Horn Point Laboratory, Cambridge, Maryland 21613, USA

ABSTRACT: Physical and biological conditions impact recruitment and adult population structure of marine invertebrates by affecting early life-history processes from spawning to post-settlement. We investigated how temperature, salinity, and phytoplankton influenced larval abundance and larval size structure for 3 species of bivalves over 2 non-consecutive years in Waquoit Bay, Massachusetts, USA. Abundance and size of Mercenaria mercenaria (quahog), Anomia simplex (jingle clam), and Geukensia demissa (ribbed mussel) larvae were compared between locations in the bay and with environmental conditions. Shell birefringence patterns using polarized light microscopy were used to distinguish species. Larval abundances for all 3 species were higher in 2009 than in 2007 and were positively correlated with temperature in both years. Differences in larval abundance and size structure between bay sites were attributed to salinity tolerances and potential source locations. Higher survival in 2009 than in 2007, as determined by number of pediveligers, was likely due to higher temperatures and greater food availability during the peak abundance months of July and August in 2009. Yearly differences in larval growth and survival can have a large impact on recruitment. Knowing the optimal periods and locations for larval abundance and survival can be useful for isolating species-specific patterns in larval dispersal and to aid resource managers in enhancing or restoring depleted populations. 

KEY WORDS: Bivalves · Larval supply · Transport · Spawning · Estuaries · Shellfish · Time series

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Cite this article as: Thompson CM, York RH, Gallager SM (2012) Species-specific abundance of bivalve larvae in relation to biological and physical conditions in a Cape Cod estuary. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 469:53-69.

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