Marine Biology

, Volume 156, Issue 3, pp 355–372 | Cite as

Feeding current characteristics of three morphologically different bivalve suspension feeders, Crassostrea gigas, Mytilus edulis and Cerastoderma edule, in relation to food competition

  • Karin TroostEmail author
  • Eize J. Stamhuis
  • Luca A. van Duren
  • Wim J. Wolff
Original Paper


Introduced Pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas) have shown rapid expansion in the Oosterschelde estuary, while stocks of native bivalves declined slightly or remained stable. This indicates that they might have an advantage over native bivalve filter feeders. Hence, at the scale of individual bivalves, we studied whether this advantage occurs in optimizing food intake over native bivalves. We investigated feeding current characteristics, in which potential differences may ultimately lead to a differential food intake. We compared feeding currents of the invasive epibenthic non-siphonate Pacific oyster to those of two native bivalve suspension feeders: the epibenthic siphonate blue mussel Mytilus edulis and the endobenthic siphonate common cockle Cerastoderma edule. Inhalant flow fields were studied empirically using digital particle image velocimetry and particle tracking velocimetry. Exhalant jet speeds were modelled for a range of exhalant-aperture cross-sectional areas as determined in the laboratory and a range of filtration rates derived from literature. Significant differences were found in inhalant and exhalant current velocities and properties of the inhalant flow field (acceleration and distance of influence). At comparable body weight, inhalant current velocities were lower in C. gigas than in the other species. Modelled exhalant jets were higher in C. gigas, but oriented horizontally instead of vertically as in the other species. Despite these significant differences and apparent morphological differences between the three species, absolute differences in feeding current characteristics were small and are not expected to lead to significant differences in feeding efficiency.


Bivalve Shell Length Pacific Oyster Particle Tracking Velocimetry Oyster Reef 



We are grateful to D. B. Blok, E. Brummelhuis, A. van Gool, J. J. de Wiljes and the crews of MS ‘Valk’ and MS ‘Krukel’ for their practical assistance. We thank P. Kamermans and anonymous reviewers for providing valuable comments on the manuscript. This project was funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research—Earth and Life Sciences (NWO-ALW) (project number 812.03.003). The experiments comply with the current Dutch laws.

Open Access

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2008

Open AccessThis is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License (, which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karin Troost
    • 1
    • 3
  • Eize J. Stamhuis
    • 2
  • Luca A. van Duren
    • 4
  • Wim J. Wolff
    • 1
  1. 1.Marine Benthic Ecology and EvolutionUniversity of GroningenHarenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Ocean EcosystemsUniversity of GroningenHarenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Wageningen IMARES, YersekeYersekeThe Netherlands
  4. 4.DELTARESDelftThe Netherlands

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