Implications of movement behavior on mussel dislodgement: exogenous selection in a Mytilus spp. hybrid zone
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- Schneider, K.R., Wethey, D.S., Helmuth, B.S.T. et al. Marine Biology (2005) 146: 333. doi:10.1007/s00227-004-1446-z
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Rocky intertidal habitats often exhibit high levels of environmental heterogeneity, and the ability of organisms to move between microhabitats is likely to have a profound influence on their rates of mortality and overall fitness. Mussels within the Mytilus edulis complex are morphologically very similar, yet at sites where these species hybridize in southwest England, populations repeatedly show evidence of selection against individuals with alleles specific to M. edulis Linnaeus, in favor of those with alleles specific to M. galloprovincialis Lamarck. Differential movement rates of these two species were examined within simulated mussel beds (gravel substrate) in the winter (February) and summer (July) of 2001. M. edulis-like mussels moved more frequently and more quickly to the exterior of gravel beds than did M. galloprovincialis-like mussels. Coupled with measurements of attachment strength in the field conducted in July 2001, we used a wave force model to examine the probability of dislodgement for each species under a range of water velocities. Results suggest that by preferentially moving to the exterior of beds, M. edulis experiences higher dislodgement rates due to exposure to large hydrodynamic forces than do M. galloprovincialis. As a consequence of lower attachment strengths, M. edulis is also predicted to have higher mortality rates than M. galloprovincialis in interior portions of the bed. Thus, differential movement behavior may contribute to the differential genotype-specific mortality rates observed in the Mytilus spp. hybrid zone in southwest England, and is an example of behavior potentially modifying rates of exogenous selection in an intertidal hybrid zone.