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Reproduction growth and production in the mussel perna perna on the east coast of south africa

Reproduction growth and production in the mussel perna perna on the east coast of south africa

Oceanographic Research Institute (Durban) Investigational Report (48): 1-28

Frozen sections of gonad tissue were used in an investigation of the reproductive cycle of P. perna (L.) at 3 localities on the Natal coast and well defined spawning peaks were recorded in the austral winter and spring. Protein and lipid contents reached highest levels just prior to spawning while glycogen content was highest when the gonads were in the resting stage. Secondary settlement was monitored and plantigrades were capable of relocation up to a shell length of 9 mm. A settlement of unusually large proportions was recorded and the effect on a mussel bed is compared with that following normal settlement. Growth was rapid; shell lengths of approximately 75 mm and 50-65 mm were attained by subtidal and intertidal mussels, respectively, in 1 yr. Biophysical factors had a greater effect on mortality than predators. Few mussels survived their 2nd yr and none their 3rd. Production of shallow subtidal mussels was determined and rates of 157,218 kJ/m2 per yr or a dry mass of 7796 g/m2 per yr and 175,192 kJ/m2 per yr or a dry mass of 8759 g/m2 per yr for total organics were recorded in 2 yr. This production rate is higher than previously recorded in a bivalve and is attributed to the availability of physical energy subsidies and the fast growth rate of P. perna. In the littoral zone of Natal detached plant debris carried by longshore currents accumulates adjacent to reefs. The physical energy of swell and surf action promotes breakdown of reefs to detritus and maintains it in suspension for filter feeders.

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