Marine Biology

, Volume 156, Issue 9, pp 1781–1795 | Cite as

Clearance rates of the great scallop (Pecten maximus) and blue mussel (Mytilus edulis) at low natural seston concentrations

  • Tore StrohmeierEmail author
  • Øivind Strand
  • Peter Cranford
Original Paper


Great scallop, Pecten maximus, and blue mussel, Mytilus edulis, clearance rate (CR) responses to low natural seston concentrations were investigated in the laboratory to study (1) short-term CR variations in individual bivalves exposed to a single low seston diet, and (2) seasonal variations in average CR responses of bivalve cohorts to natural environmental variations. On a short temporal scale, mean CR response of both species to 0.06 μg L−1 chlorophyll a (Chl a) and 0.23 mg L−1 suspended particulate matter (SPM) remained constant despite large intra-individual fluctuations in CR. In the seasonal study, cohorts of each species were exposed to four seston treatments consisting of ambient and diluted natural seston that ranged in mean concentration from 0.15 to 0.43 mg L−1 SPM, 0.01 to 0.88 μg L−1 Chl a, 36 to 131 μg L−1 particulate organic carbon and 0.019 to 0.330 mm3 L−1 particle volume. Although food abundance in all treatments was low, the nutritional quality of the seston was relatively high (e.g., mean particulate organic content ranged from 68 to 75%). Under these low seston conditions, a high percentage of P. maximus (81–98%) and M. edulis (67–97%) actively cleared particles at mean rates between 9 and 12 and between 4 and 6 L g−1 h−1, respectively. For both species, minimum mean CR values were obtained for animals exposed to the lowest seston concentrations. Within treatments, P. maximus showed a greater degree of seasonality in CR than M. edulis, which fed at a relatively constant rate despite seasonal changes in food and temperature. P. maximus showed a non-linear CR response to increasing Chl a levels, with rates increasing to a maximum at approximately 0.4 μg L−1 Chl a and then decreasing as food quantity continued to increase. Mean CR of M. edulis also peaked at a similar concentration, but remained high and stable as the food supply continued to increase and as temperatures varied between 4.6 and 19.6°C. The results show that P. maximus and M. edulis from a low seston environment, do not stop suspension-feeding at very low seston quantities; a result that contradicts previous conclusions on the suspension-feeding behavior of bivalve mollusks and which is pertinent to interpreting the biogeographic distribution of bivalve mollusks and site suitability for aquaculture.


Bivalve Suspend Particulate Matter Clearance Rate Particulate Organic Carbon Seasonal Study 
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.



The authors would like to thank Cathinca Krogness for assisting in the experimental work. Svein Rune Erga and Jon Grant provided constructive comments on the manuscript. This project was funded by the Research Council of Norway (project no. 173537) within the strategic institute program Carrying Capacity in Norwegian Aquaculture (CANO) at the Institute of Marine Research in Bergen, Norway. The experiments comply with the current laws of the country in which the experiments were performed.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tore Strohmeier
    • 1
    Email author
  • Øivind Strand
    • 1
  • Peter Cranford
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Marine ResearchBergenNorway
  2. 2.Ecosystem Research Division, Fisheries and Oceans CanadaBedford Institute of OceanographyDartmouthCanada

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