Commercially important species associated with horse mussel (Modiolus modiolus) biogenic reefs: a priority habitat for nature conservation and fisheries benefits

Flora Kent, James McD Mair, Jason Newton, Charles Lindenbaum, Joanne Porter, William Sanderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Citations (Scopus)
67 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Horse mussel reefs (Modiolus modiolus) are biodiversity hotspots afforded protection by Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the NE Atlantic. In this study, horse mussel reefs, cobble habitats and sandy habitats were assessed using underwater visual census and drop-down video techniques in three UK regions. Megafauna were enumerated, differences in community composition and individual species abundances were analysed. Samples of conspicuous megafauna were also collected from horse mussel reefs in Orkney for stable isotope analysis.

Communities of conspicuous megafauna were different between horse mussel habitats and other habitats throughout their range. Three commercially important species: whelks (Buccinum undatum), queen scallops (Aequipecten opercularis) and spider crabs (Maja brachydactyla) were significantly more abundant (by as much as 20 times) on horse mussel reefs than elsewhere. Isotopic analysis provided insights into their trophic relationship with the horse mussel reef. Protection of M. modiolus habitat can achieve biodiversity conservation objectives whilst benefiting fisheries also.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-78
Number of pages8
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Volume118
Issue number1-2
Early online date17 Feb 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2017

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