Marine Biology

, Volume 50, Issue 3, pp 195–207 | Cite as

Relationships between seston, available food and feeding activity in the common mussel Mytilus edulis

  • J. Widdows
  • P. Fieth
  • C. M. Worrall


The feeding and metabolic rates of Mytilus edulis L. of different body sizes were measured in response to changes in particle concentrations ranging from 2 to 350 mg l-1. Rates of oxygen consumption were not significantly affected by changes in seston concentration, whereas clearance rates gradually declined with increasing particle concentration. Pseudofaeces production was initiated at relatively low seston concentrations (<5 mg l-1). Marked seasonal changes were recorded in the composition of suspended particulates (seston) in an estuary in south-west England. Total seston was sampled at frequent intervals throughout an annual cycle and analysed in terms of: particle size-frequency distributions, total dry weight (mg l-1), inorganic content, chlorophyll a, carbohydrate, protein and lipid. The particulate carbohydrate, protein and lipid content provided an estimate of the food content of the seston. The results are discussed in terms of the “food available” to a nonselective suspension feeder, such as M. edulis, during a seasonal cycle. The effect of inorganic silt in suspension was mainly to limit by “dilution” the amount of food material ingested rather than to reduce the amount of material filtered by the mussel. In winter, the food content of the material ingested was 5%, and this increased to 25% during the spring and summer.


Chlorophyll Particle Concentration Food Content Mytilus Edulis Suspension Feeder 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Widdows
    • 1
  • P. Fieth
    • 1
  • C. M. Worrall
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Marine Environmental ResearchPlymouthEngland

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