MEPS 501:113-126 (2014)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10702

Nutritional and reproductive strategies in a chemosymbiotic bivalve living in a tropical intertidal seagrass bed

Matthijs van der Geest1,*, Amadou Abderahmane Sall2, Sidi Ould Ely3, Reindert W. Nauta1, Jan. A. van Gils1, Theunis Piersma1,4

1NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, PO Box 59, 1790 AB Den Burg, Texel, The Netherlands
2Mauritanian Institute for Oceanographic Research and Fisheries (IMROP), BP 22, Nouadhibou, Mauritania
3Parc National du Banc d’Arguin, BP 5355, Nouakchott, Mauritania
4Chair in Global Flyway Ecology, Animal Ecology Group, Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Studies (CEES), University of Groningen, PO Box 11103, 9700 CC Groningen, The Netherlands
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Sulphide-oxidizing endosymbiont-bearing bivalves often dominate the infauna of seagrass-covered sediments, where they control sulphide levels and contribute to carbon cycling by feeding on chemosynthetically fixed carbon and suspended particulate organic matter (SPOM). Previous studies from temperate habitats suggest that SPOM availability may regulate growth and reproduction, since SPOM may be of greater nutritional value than the material provided by bacterial endosymbionts. To examine if changes in diet correlate with body condition and reproductive activity, we studied seasonal patterns in somatic and gonadal investment and gametogenic development in relation to nutrition in the endosymbiont-bearing bivalve Loripes lucinalis in seagrass-covered intertidal flats at a tropical study site (Banc d’Arguin, Mauritania). Carbon stable isotope analysis revealed clear seasonal cycles in the relative heterotrophic contribution to the diet of Loripes, with mean monthly values ranging from 21% in March to 39% in September. Seasonality was also observed for size-corrected body and somatic mass, both increasing from March to October, suggesting food limitation during winter. In contrast, Loripes exhibits a semi-annual reproductive cycle characterized by major spawning events during both January-February and July-August. Growth and gametogenic development seem to especially require supplemental heterotrophic nutrition from June to January. Thus, the ability to shift to heterotrophic feeding contributes to growth, reproductive output and survival in Loripes, with downstream effects on population dynamics and seagrass functioning.


KEY WORDS: Bivalvia · Mixotrophy · Stable isotopes · Seasonality · Reproductive cycle · Life history · Sulphide · Seagrass


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Cite this article as: van der Geest M, Sall AA, Ely SO, Nauta RW, van Gils JA, Piersma T (2014) Nutritional and reproductive strategies in a chemosymbiotic bivalve living in a tropical intertidal seagrass bed. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 501:113-126. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10702

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