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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 704:35-54 (2023)  -  DOI:

Byssal thread attachment and growth are not correlated across gradients of temperature and food availability for two congeneric mussel species

Emily A. Roberts1,2,3,*, Emily Carrington1,2

1Department of Biology, University of Washington, 4000 15th Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98195, USA
2Friday Harbor Laboratories, University of Washington, 620 University Road, Friday Harbor, Washington 98250, USA
3Present address: Keck Science Department, Claremont McKenna College, 925 N Mills Ave, Claremont, CA 91711, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Anthropogenic warming and natural climate variability affect global patterns of seawater temperature and marine primary productivity and affect organism survival, growth, and physiology. Mussels are ecosystem engineers that utilize byssal thread structures to attach to hard substrate, a strategy key to survival in wave-swept rocky shore environments. Byssal thread production varies according to season and environmental conditions, and temperature and food availability may influence the production of these structures by affecting energy limitation. Mytilus trossulus and M. galloprovincialis are congeneric mussel species in the Northeast Pacific with cold- and warm-adapted thermal tolerances, respectively. First, we hypothesized that temperature has opposing effects on growth rates of the 2 species. Second, we hypothesized that either (1) byssal thread production is positively correlated with growth rate (the ‘production’ hypothesis), or (2) there is a trade-off between growth and byssal thread production, and resources are allocated first to byssal thread production rather than growth. Under this ‘trade-off’ hypothesis, we predicted no relationship between growth rate and byssal thread production. We manipulated seawater temperature and food availability and quantified mussel performance in terms of survival, growth, and byssus attachment. Across all treatment combinations, we found that M. galloprovincialis had positive shell and tissue growth and M. trossulus had minimal shell growth and a loss in tissue mass. Temperature had opposing effects on each species; temperature increased shell growth of M. galloprovincialis but increased tissue loss of M. trossulus. Temperature did not affect byssal thread production, and there was no significant relationship between byssal thread quality or quantity and shell or tissue growth across the temperature and food gradient for either species. Our results suggest that energy allocation is prioritized towards byssal thread production over growth.

KEY WORDS: Bioenergetics · Energy budget · Thermal tolerance · Resource allocation · Biomechanics · Mytilus trossulus · Mytilus galloprovincialis

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Cite this article as: Roberts EA, Carrington E (2023) Byssal thread attachment and growth are not correlated across gradients of temperature and food availability for two congeneric mussel species. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 704:35-54.

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