Research Summary: Where to Settle—Settlement Preferences of Mytilus galloprovincialis and Choice of Habitat at a Micro Spatial Scale


The global mussel aquaculture industry uses specialised spat catching and nursery culture ropes made of multi-filament synthetic and natural fibres to optimise settlement and retention of mussels for on-growing. However, the settlement ecology and preferences of mussels are poorly understood and only sparse information exists in a commercial context. This study quantified the settlement preferences of pediveligers and plantigrades of Mytilus galloprovincialis on increasingly complex surfaces and settlement locations at a micro spatial scale on and within ropes under commercial hatchery operating conditions using optical microscopy and X-ray micro-computed tomography (µCT). M. galloprovincialis has clear settlement preferences for more complex materials and high selectivity for settlement sites from the pediveliger through to the plantigrade stage. Pediveligers of M. galloprovincialis initially settle inside specialised culture ropes. Larger pediveligers were located close to the exterior of ropes as they increased in size over time. In contrast, smaller individuals were located deeper inside of the ropes over time. This study demonstrates that X-ray µCT is an excellent non-destructive technique for mapping settlement and attachment sites of individuals as early as one day post settlement, and quantifies the number and location of settled individuals on and within ropes as a tool to understand and optimise settlement in complex multi-dimensional materials and environments.


Publisher: Public Library of Science

Date Published: 14-December-2012

Author(s): Carl C., Poole A., Williams M., de Nys R.


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