Soft-bottom tidepools within mixed reefs of native mussels and introduced oysters – refuge for associated species and parasites?
Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom
The introduction of Pacific oysters to the sedimentary south-eastern North Sea coast and their establishment on intertidal native blue mussel beds has caused the development of mixed reefs of mussels and oysters with extensive tidepools. Tidepools have been intensively studied at rocky shores where they show community structures, which usually differ from that of the surrounding emerging substrates. Tidepools at sedimentary coasts, however, have received less attention. We compared the
... structure and species interactions inside and outside tidepools in oyster reefs by determining densities of snails, barnacles and amphipods. Snail densities were similar in and outside tidepools. Barnacle coverage on bivalve shells, however, was lower inside tidepools, which may be caused by higher predation pressure and increased snail grazing under permanently submerged conditions, as was revealed by field and laboratory experiments. Additionally, we studied the occurrence of copepod and trematode parasites in blue mussels inside and outside tidepools. Prevalence and intensity of parasitic copepods was higher in mussels inside tidepools. Trematode parasites, by contrast, showed a lower intensity in mussels inside tidepools. This can be explained by high amphipod densities found inside tidepools because trematode larvae represent a food source of amphipods. Our study suggests that the community structure of oyster reefs within tidepools is not a submerged equivalent to that of intertidal reefs. As their counterparts at rocky shores, they show their own species distribution patterns with particular species interactions and only provide refuge for specific species such as parasitic copepods.