, Volume 141, Issue 6, pp 1045-1050

Mortality and growth of juvenile hard clams Mercenaria mercenaria during brown tide

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Blooms of the picoplankton-sized alga Aureococcus anophagefferens Hargraves et Sieburth, also known as "brown tide," frequently recur in Great South Bay, New York, USA. A field study compared mortality and growth rates of juvenile hard clams, Mercenaria mercenaria (L.), raised at a site that experienced a bloom of A. anophagefferens (>1×106 cells ml–1) to clams grown in a nonbloom site from May to September 2000 at two sites on the north and south shores of Long Island. High (67%) cumulative clam mortality was observed for clams raised at the brown tide site (south shore) during the bloom (June–July), and individuals exhibited no measurable growth during that period. After the bloom subsided (mid-July), clams that survived the brown tide suffered low (<5%) cumulative mortality over the remaining sampling period (July–September). These survivors exhibited rapid growth for 4 weeks shortly after the bloom's decline. Subsequently, their growth slowed to rates comparable with those observed at the nonbloom site (north shore). By contrast, a low (<5%) cumulative mortality was observed for M. mercenaria raised at the site with no brown tide, and positive growth occurred throughout the study. These data suggest that some juvenile clams not only survive brown tide but also recover following the bloom.