Marine Biology

, Volume 153, Issue 6, pp 1153–1164 | Cite as

Distribution of a marginal population of Mytilus edulis: responses to biotic and abiotic processes at different spatial scales

  • Mats WesterbomEmail author
  • Olli Mustonen
  • Mikael Kilpi
Research Article


Physical and biological processes interact to produce pattern in nature. Pattern is scale dependent as processes generating pattern are heterogeneous in time and space. We tested some causes of variation in abundance and distribution of three marginal populations of sublittoral blue mussels, Mytilus edulis, in the non-tidal northeastern Baltic Sea. We studied the role of substrate inclination, perennial algae and siltation along local wave exposure gradients on mussel distribution over a regional salinity gradient. We found marked differences on regional scales (p < 0.001) with lower densities and biomasses of mussels with declining salinity. Along local gradients, mussel densities increased with increasing exposure (p < 0.001) and declining slope and sedimentation (p < 0.01). Site specifically, densities of blue mussels and the perennial red algae, Furcellaria lumbricalis, were positively related, results supported by a colonisation experiment. Also, young post-recruits showed significant relations to adult biomass, wave exposure, algal biomass, bottom slope and sediment cover. Findings showed that the relative importance of the determinants affecting blue mussels at the edge of their range vary with scale and are affected by the density and size structure of mussel populations. The study provides an indication of the types of factors that may be invoked as causes of spatial variation in marginal blue mussel populations and reinforces the need to consider multiple aspects when distributional patterns are assessed.


Sediment Cover Blue Mussel Wave Exposure Colonisation Experiment Sheltered Site 
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 appreciate the constructive comments of Prof. N. Kautsky on the draft of the manuscript. We are very grateful to M. Hario at the Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute for helping in the field at Söderskär and to the Finnish Institute of Marine Research for providing data on offshore salinity conditions. Constructive and most valuable comments were provided by two anonymous referees on an earlier version of the manuscript. The study was supported by the EU-project (AC 340165) and grants from Svenska kulturfonden (MW), Oscar Öflunds stiftelse (MW), Waldemar von Frenckells stiftelse (MW) and Walter och Andrée de Nottbecks stiftelse (MW; OM). The study complies with current laws in Finland.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mats Westerbom
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Olli Mustonen
    • 2
  • Mikael Kilpi
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Novia University of Applied SciencesEkenäsFinland
  2. 2.Tvärminne Zoological StationHankoFinland
  3. 3.Aronia Research CentreÅbo Akademi UniversityEkenäsFinland

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