Marine Biology

, Volume 101, Issue 2, pp 219–226 | Cite as

Experimental analysis of byssus thread production by Mytilus edulis and Modiolus modiolus in sediments

  • P. S. Meadows
  • P. Shand


Laboratory experiments have been conducted on byssus thread production by two species of mussel, Mytilus edulis L. and Modiolus modiolus (L.), representing the epibyssate and endobyssate species of the Mytilidae, respectively. Mussels were placed in seven particle sizes of sediment ranging from 50 μm to 16 mm for 12 d. The number of byssus threads per mussel, length of threads, number of threads per particle and size of pads were then recorded. Modiolus modiolus (endobyssate) produced more threads than Mytilus edulis (epibyssate). M. edulis produced most threads in the size range 2 to 16 mm and Modiolus modiolus in the size range 500 to 1000 μm. M. modiolus produced longer threads than Mytilus edulis. Both species produced longer threads in particle sizes finer than 2 mm. M. edulis produced smaller pads than Modiolus modiolus. Both species produced larger pads in sediments coarser than 1 000 μm. Results were also analysed in terms of attachment units (a thread attached to one or more particles, or a particle to which more than one thread is attached). The thread:particle ratio of the attachment units ranged from ca. 1:10 in the finest sediments to ca. 10:1 in the coarsest sediments. Mytilus edulis attached more threads to single particles (72% of attachment units) than Modiolus modiolus (37% of attachment units). M. modiolus had a wider spread of ratios in the finer particle sizes than Mytilus edulis. The significance of our results are discussed in relation to the ecology and palaeoecology of epibyssate and endobysste species.


Particle Size Size Range Laboratory Experiment Finer Particle Experimental Analysis 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. S. Meadows
    • 1
  • P. Shand
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of GlasgowGlasgowScotland

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