, Volume 160, Issue 6, pp 1427-1439
Date: 04 Apr 2013

A new method for high-resolution bivalve growth rate studies in hydrothermal environments

Abstract

The age and shell growth rate of deep-sea hydrothermal bivalves were investigated for the first time using in situ chemical staining combined with high-resolution micro-increment analysis. A staining chamber developed for this purpose was applied to a patch of Bathymodiolus thermophilus mussels at 2,500 m depth at the 9°47′N vent field on the East Pacific Rise (EPR) in May 2010. This approach minimizes disturbance of the mussels in their habitat. Bathymodiolus thermophilus grows according to a circalunidian rhythm, with one increment formed each day, and displays tide-related growth rate variability. Based on the von Bertalanffy growth rate model, the largest shell collected (SL = 20.5 cm) would be 10.0 year old, with a growth rate of 4.2–1.1 cm year−1 as the shell ages. This fast growth rate is consistent with the instability of the environment in this section of the EPR and observed recolonization rates and could reflect a specific adaptation of this species.

Communicated by J. P. Grassle.