Helgoländer Meeresuntersuchungen

, Volume 51, Issue 2, pp 173–189 | Cite as

The influence of predation by herring gullsLarus argentatus and oystercatchersHaematopus ostralegus on a newly established musselMytilus edulis bed in autumn and winter

  • G. Hilgerloh
  • M. Herlyn
  • H. Michaelis


Predation by herring gullsLarus argentatus and oystercatchersHaematopus ostralegus was evaluated on a newly established musselMytilus edulis bed on tidal flats of the German Wadden Sea. The mussel bed covered an area of 2 ha and showed a decrease in biomass of 40% in the most densely covered parts from August to January. Synchronously, the extent of the mussel bed was reduced, resulting in a decrease of average biomass of 98% over the whole mussel bed. From the beginning of August 1994 to mid January 1995, the average size of mussels increased from 10.7 to 20.3 mm. The P/B-ratio was 0.68 in August and 0.18 between September and November. Herring gulls and oystercatchers were the most important mussel predators. On average, 266 herring gulls and 63 oystercatchers were present on the mussel bed during one low tide; 34% of the herring gulls and 78% of the oystercatchers were observed to be feeding. Herring gulls fed at a rate of 4.2 mussels per minute and oystercatchers at a rate of 1.3 mussels per minute. While herring gulls took the most common mussel sizes (mean: 20 mm), oystercatchers searched for the largest mussels available (mean: 25 mm). Herring gulls consumed 13 mussels/m2 (0.3g AFDW) during one day and oystercatchers 1.7 mussels/m2 (0.1 g AFDW). Predation by birds was compensated by 33% of the production. The proportion removed by bird predation amounted to 10% of abundance and to 16% of biomass (including production). Oystercatchers were responsible for 1% of the reduction in abundance and for 3% of biomass. Removal was highest in the most common size classes of mussels, mainly caused by herring gulls. However, the highest proportion of mussels was eaten in the largest size classes, mainly by oystercatchers. *** DIRECT SUPPORT *** A03B6035 00004


Tidal Flat Mytilus Edulis Bird Predation Herring Gull Larus Argentatus 
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Copyright information

© Biologische Anstalt Helgoland 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. Hilgerloh
    • 1
  • M. Herlyn
    • 2
  • H. Michaelis
    • 2
  1. 1.Forschungszentrum TerramareWilhelmshaven
  2. 2.NLÖ-Forschungsstelle KüsteNorderney

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