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1 August 2006 BIOTIC AND ABIOTIC FACTORS INFLUENCING GROWTH AND SURVIVAL OF WILD AND CULTURED INDIVIDUALS OF THE SOFTSHELL CLAM (MYA ARENARIA L.) IN EASTERN MAINE
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Abstract

A series of intertidal field experiments was conducted from 1986–2003 in eastern Maine to examine biotic and abiotic factors influencing the growth and survival of wild and cultured individuals of the softshell clam, Mya arenaria L. Separate experiments examined: (1) the efficacy of transferring sublegal wild clams (<50.8 mm SL) from areas near the high intertidal zone where shell growth was slow to areas where growth was predicted to be faster; (2) effects of tidal height on wild and cultured clam growth; (3) effects of spatial variation on cultured clam growth; (4) dispersion and growth of cultured juveniles in small experimental units; (5) effects of the naticid gastropod, Euspira heros Say, predation on survival of wild and cultured clams and (6) the species composition of large, crustacean predators that forage intertidally during periods of tidal inundation. Protective netting (4.2 mm aperture) increased recovery rate of transferred clams by 120% and resulted in a 3-fold enhancement of wild recruits. Effects of tidal height on wild clam growth revealed complex behaviors in >0 y-class individuals. Clams growing near the upper intertidal take >8 y to attain a legal size of 50.8 mm SL, whereas animals near the mid intertidal generally take 4.5–6.5 y. Unexpectedly, clams initially 38–54 mm SL and growing near the extreme low tide mark at a mud flat in Eastport, Maine, added, on average, <2 mm of new shell in a year, which was 8–10 mm SL less than animals at higher shore levels. It is hypothesized that biological disturbance by moon snails, that consumed >90% of clams at the low shore levels, contributed to this slow growth. In another field trial from 1986–1987, moon snails and other consumers were allowed access to clams ranging in size from 15–51 mm. E. heros preyed on clams over the entire size range and attacked clams between 31–40 mm at a rate that was nearly double what had been expected. Mean snail size was estimated to range from 10–52 mm shell height (SH), based on a laboratory study that yielded information about the linear relationship between snail size and its borehole diameter. In an experiment from June to September 1993, moon snails consumed >70% of juvenile clams (ca. 10 mm SL) within a month after planting at each of three tidal heights. Snail sizes ranged from 15–20 mm SD with larger individuals occurring near the upper intertidal zone. Green crabs, Carcinus maenas (L.) also prey heavily on softshell clam populations, but most studies that use shell damage to assign a predator have assumed that all crushing and chipping predation is because of this invasive species. An intertidal trapping study demonstrated that both green crabs and rock crabs, Cancer irroratus Say, are present during periods of tidal inundation, with the latter species accounting for ca. 40% of large crustacean numbers.

BRIAN F. BEAL "BIOTIC AND ABIOTIC FACTORS INFLUENCING GROWTH AND SURVIVAL OF WILD AND CULTURED INDIVIDUALS OF THE SOFTSHELL CLAM (MYA ARENARIA L.) IN EASTERN MAINE," Journal of Shellfish Research 25(2), 461-474, (1 August 2006). https://doi.org/10.2983/0730-8000(2006)25[461:BAAFIG]2.0.CO;2
Published: 1 August 2006
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