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MEPS prepress abstract   -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13314

Macrophyte-derived detritus in shallow coastal waters contributes to suspended particulate organic matter and increases growth rates of Mytilis edulis

Douglas Bearham*, Mathew A. Vanderklift, Ryan A. Downie, Damian P. Thomson, Lesley A. Clementson

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Benthic suspension feeders, such as bivalves, potentially have several different food sources, including plankton and resuspended detritus of benthic origin. We hypothesised that suspension feeders are likely to feed on detritus if it is present. This inference would be further strengthened if there was a correlation between δ13C of suspension feeder tissue and δ13C of POM. Since detritus is characterised by high POC:chl-a ratios, we would also predict a positive correlation between POM δ13C and POC:chl-a. We hypothesised that increasing depth and greater distance from shore would produce a greater nutritional reliance by experimentally-transplanted blue mussels Mytilis edulis on plankton rather than macrophyte-derived detritus. After deployments of 3 months duration in 2 different years at depths from 3 to 40 m, M. edulis sizes were positively correlated with POM concentrations. POC:chl-a ratios and δ13C of POM and M. edulis gill tissue decreased with increasing depth (and greater distance from shore). δs13C of POM was correlated with δ13C of M. edulis. Our results suggest that detritus comprised a large proportion of POM at shallow depths (<15 m), that M. edulis ingested and assimilated carbon in proportion to its availability in POM, and that growth of M. edulis was higher where detritus was present and POM concentrations were higher.