Direct and indirect effects of predation, herbivory and surface rugosity on mussel recruitment
The predatory gastropod Nucella lapillus, commonly preys upon the mussel, Mytilus edulis, and is thought to control the distribution and abundance of mussels on the rocky shores of New England, USA. In this study, done in Maine, USA, not only the presence of Nucella lapillus but also the roughness of the experimental surface and the presence of the herbivorous gastropod, Littorina littorea, were manipulated. Four types of surfaces were used as recruitment substrata for mussels: smooth bare granite, aggregations of the barnacle, Semibalanus balanoides, fiberglass resin castings of smooth bare granite and resin castings of aggregations of S. balanoides. To ensure that caged N. lapillus were not starving, barnacles were provided as alternative prey. Experiments showed no detectable effect of N. lapillus on the recruitment of M. edulis. Mussel recruitment was enhanced by surface rugosity and depressed by the activities of L. littorea. Analysis of covariance, using the number of algal species as the covariate, suggested that L. littorea reduced the number of newlyrecruited mussels by removing algae that provided recruitment sites, but no manipulations were done to test this conjecture. It is likely that previous reports of N. lapillus controlling mussel abundance are attributable to N. lapillus preying upon barnacles, which increase surface rugosity and enhance mussel recruitment. Review of literature on feeding preferences of N. lapillus supports this view. When handling times and prey availability are taken into account, Nucella shows a clear preference for barnacles over mussels.
- 1 - sciences appliquees, technologies et medecines
- 2 - sciences biologiques et medicales
- 3 - sciences biologiques fondamentales et appliquees. psychologie
- 4 - biophysique moleculaire
- 1 - Life Sciences ; 2 - Agricultural and Biological Sciences ; 3 - Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics