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Al Alder, Andrew Jeffs, Jenny Hillman
Active restoration of shellfish reefs is becoming an increasingly popular option to recover habitat and ecosystem function to degraded coastal areas. In New Zealand, the loss of over 1500 km2 of subtidal green-lipped mussel (Perna canaliculus) reefs has incentivized efforts to recover this critical habitat to its historic range. Current restoration efforts rely on spreading adult (70-100 mm shell length (SL)) mussels across soft-sediment seafloor, which is effective albeit inefficient. There is growing interest in using subadult mussels (30-50 mm SL) to make the restoration process more efficient, however, more information is needed to develop large-scale methods for overcoming predation and hydrodynamic dislodgment that currently limit subadult mussel survival. This presentation will discuss how small variations in individual mussel and mussel clump morphologies correlate to large differences in their survival. In this study predator-resistant characteristics (attachment thread morphology and shell strength), mussel clump morphology, and survival following experimental deployments to a restoration site were compared in mussels from five populations. High survival was represented by mussels that formed compact, contiguous clumps (92.3 – 99.0%), possessed thicker and more numerous attachment threads (92.3 %), and/or greater shell strength (95.5 – 99.0 %). These results suggest that careful selection of subadult mussels that exhibit these characteristics improves resistance to predation and hydrodynamic stress, and thus restoration success. These data provide a framework for more developing more nuanced approaches to mussel reef restoration that use mussel biology to inform restoration strategies in New Zealand and for other species around the world.
Conference Presentation, SER2021
Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program