Marine Biology

, Volume 156, Issue 5, pp 991–1006 | Cite as

Mechanisms of habitat segregation between an invasive and an indigenous mussel: settlement, post-settlement mortality and recruitment

  • Sarah J. BownesEmail author
  • Christopher D. McQuaid
Original Paper


The mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis is highly invasive worldwide, but displays varying degrees of local and regional coexistence with indigenous mussels through spatial habitat segregation. We investigated the roles of settlement, post-settlement mortality, juvenile growth and recruitment in partial habitat segregation between the invasive M. galloprovincialis and the indigenous mussel Perna perna on the south coast of South Africa. We used two study locations, Plettenberg Bay and Tsitsikamma, 70 km apart, with two sites (separated by 300–400 m) per location, each divided into three vertical zones. There were no significant effects in Tsitsikamma, where daily settlement and monthly recruitment were significantly lower than in Plettenberg Bay. In Plettenberg Bay, settlement (primary and secondary) and recruitment of both species decreased upshore. Post-settlement mortality was measured over two consecutive 6-day periods during a spring tide and a neap tide. For both species mortality was low on the low-shore. High-shore mortality was consistently low for M. galloprovincialis, but increased dramatically for P. perna during spring tide. No data were obtained for growth of P. perna, but juvenile M. galloprovincialis grew more slowly farther upshore. P. perna recruited mainly in spring and summer, with a peak in summer far greater than for M. galloprovincialis. Recruitment of M. galloprovincialis was more protracted, continuing through autumn and winter. Thus local coexistence is due to a combination of pre- and post-recruitment factors differing in importance for each species. P. perna is excluded from the high-shore by recruitment failure (low settlement, high mortality). High survival and slow growth in juveniles may allow large densities of M. galloprovincialis to accumulate there, despite low settlement rates. With no differences between species in settlement or mortality on the low-shore, exclusion of M. galloprovincialis from that zone is likely to be by post-recruitment processes, possibly strengthened by periodic heavy recruitments of P. perna. At larger scales, larval retention and protracted recruitment contribute to the success of M. galloprovincialis at Plettenberg Bay, while recruitment limitation may explain why M. galloprovincialis is less successful at other sites.


Spring Tide South Coast Perna Neap Tide Juvenile Growth 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We would like to extend special thanks to the Tsitsikamma National Park for allowing us to sample within the reserve and specifically J. Allen, S. Brouwer and E. Bester for organising permits and for their hospitality during field trips. In addition, thank you to Dr. S. Kaehler, Dr. J. Erlandsson, N. Wilson, Dr. G. Zardi and B. Hayward for their help in the field; Dr. M. Villet, Prof. S. Radloff and Dr. F. Porri for their help and advice with statistics and Mr. and Mrs. R.S. Bownes for their support. Our gratitude also goes to the National Research Foundation for funding this research.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Coastal Research Group, Department of Zoology and EntomologyRhodes UniversityGrahamstownSouth Africa

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