Jackson Estuarine Laboratory

Effects of tidal currents, seston, and bottom sediments on growth of Mercenaria mercenaria: results of a field experiment


Tidal currents, seston, and sediments separately influence growth of the hard clam, Mercenaria mercenaria, but it is uncertain how these factors may interact. A 3×3 factorial field experiment, carried out in Great Sound, a coastal lagoon in Southern New Jersey, USA, between May and September 1986, determined the relative effects of three sediment types and three site-specific seston/tidal current regimes on the individual growth of M. mercenaria. Analysis of variance of the change in shell length after 15 wk (differences in initial and final lengths) demonstrated a significant difference (P=0.0064) in growth among sites, but no significant differences (P=0.1331) for growth in different sediments, although trends were evident. Effects of sites were independent of sediment type (P=0.2621). Shell growth rates differed by 10.7% between the slowest and fastest sites, but only differed by 5.7% between sediment types, with fastest growth in sand and slowest in mud. Tidal current speeds and four measures of seston (chlorophyll a, particulate inorganic and organic matter, PIM and POM, and energy content) were measured >20 times in near-bottom waters at each site. Horizontal fluxes of POM exhibited higher correlation coefficients with growth rates, than did seston concentrations or current speeds alone. We attribute significant “site” differences to differences in horizontal seston fluxes fluxes among sites. We suggest that horizontal seston fluxes may be a major factor affecting individual growth of suspension-feeding bivalves.

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Marine Biology



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