Honig, A, J. Supan, M. La Peyre. 2015. Population ecology of the gulf ribbed mussel across a salinity gradient: recruitment, growth and density within a Louisiana estuary. Ecosphere 6:1-13.
Benthic intertidal bivalves play an essential role in estuarine ecosystems by contributing to habitat provision, water filtration, and promoting productivity. As such, changes that impact population distributions and persistence of local bivalve populations may have large ecosystem level consequences. Recruitment, growth, mortality, population size structure and density of the gulf coast ribbed mussel, Geukensia granosissima, were examined across a salinity gradient in southeastern Louisiana. Data were collected along 100-m transects at interior and edge marsh plots located at duplicate sites in upper (salinity ~4), central (salinity ~8) and lower (salinity ~15) Barataria Bay, Louisiana, U.S.A. Growth, mortality and recruitment were measured in established plots from April through November 2012. Mussel densities were greatest within the middle bay (salinity ~8) regardless of flooding regime, but strongly associated with highest stem densities of Juncus roemerianus vegetation. Mussel recruitment, growth, size and survival were significantly higher at mid and high salinity marsh edge sites as compared to all interior marsh and low salinity sites. The observed patterns of density, growth and mortality in Barataria Bay may reflect detrital food resource availability, host vegetation community distribution along the salinity gradient, salinity tolerance of the mussel, and reduced predation at higher salinity edge sites.