Clam landings have dramatically decreased in eastern Maine since 1982. Earlier studies demonstrated that densities of 0-y-old individuals of Mya arenaria L. were lower in Washington County on the eastern Maine coast than in Cumberland County on the southern Maine coast. Reduced juvenile recruitment could result from reduced larval abundances, high postsettlement mortality, or a combination of these factors. Attempts to assist recovery of populations experiencing reduced recruitment would vary depending on which combination of factors inhibited recruitment. In this study we measured initial settlement, short-term (<4 wk) postsettlement densities, and longer term (several months) postsettlement densities of 0-y-old juvenile M. arenaria in both eastern and southern Maine. Although there were seasonal and spatial differences, densities of juvenile clams were significantly greater in southern Maine over eastern Maine at each of these life history stages (initial settlement, and early and later postsettlement), generally by one or more orders of magnitude. These results suggest the low number of M. arenaria recruits in eastern Maine is a consequence primarily of reduced densities of larvae in near-shore waters rather than processes affecting postsettlement survival differentially between southern and eastern Maine. Because of the very low abundance of competent clam larvae in eastern Maine, restoration of clam populations there will require intensive efforts, such as seeding mudflats with hatchery-reared juvenile clams and managing subsequent clam survival.
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Vol. 29 • No. 2