In the present study the biodiversity of a model subtidal habitat, formed by the keystone horse mussel Modiolus modiolus (L.), was analysed across its Northeast Atlantic biogeographical range. Consistent samples of ‘clumped’ mussels were collected at 16 locations, covering a wide range of environmental conditions. Analysis of the associated macroscopic biota showed high biodiversity across all sites, cumulatively hosting 924 marine macroinvertebrate and algal taxa.
There was a rapid increase in macroinvertebrate biodiversity (H′) and community evenness (J) between 2 and 10 mussels per clump, reaching an asymptote at mussel densities of 10 per clump. Diversity declined at more northern latitudes, with depth and in coarser substrata with the fastest tidal flows. Diversity metrics corrected for species abundance were generally high across the habitats sampled, with significant latitudinal variability caused by current, depth and substrate type. Faunal community composition varied significantly between most sites and was difficult to assign to a ‘typical’ M. modiolus assemblage, being significantly influenced by regional environmental conditions, including the presence of algal turfs.
Within the context of the rapid global increase in protection and restoration of bivalve shellfish habitats, site and density-specific values of diversity are probably the best targets for conservation management and upon which to base monitoring programmes.
- Benthic habitats
- Biogenic reefs
- Diversity indices
- Ecological indicators
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Waste Management and Disposal
- Environmental Engineering
- Environmental Chemistry