The spatial heterogeneity of epifauna on a Modiolus modiolus reef off north-west Wales was investigated using divers. The community associated with these horse mussels was similar to that described previously from Loch Creran and the north basin of Strangford Lough. Some differences in epifauna may be attributable to the less sheltered nature of the site. Modiolus modiolus numbers and the associated epifaunal community were significantly different between ridge and trough sub-habitats. Troughs can be considered ‘reduced’ ridge communities whereas ridges have high densities of horse mussels and certain sessile taxa were correlated with their abundance. Modiolus modiolus aggregation as a competitive response to the feeding environment, enhanced food availability on ridges and sediment deposition amongst mussel clumps may start to explain the undulating bed-form. Patchiness in community composition and periodic cover by ophuroids has implications when considering the monitoring of the horse mussel community. Stratified, in situ recording of the highly populated ridges could improve the statistical sensitivity of monitoring horse mussel reefs whilst simultaneously focusing on the more sensitive indicators of fishing threats.
|Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom
|Published - 2008
- biogenic reef
- Irish Sea
- community heterogeneity