Original Article

Helgoland Marine Research

, Volume 66, Issue 1, pp 1-9

First online:

Comparative study of predatory responses in blue mussels (Mytilus edulis L.) produced in suspended long line cultures or collected from natural bottom mussel beds

  • Helle Torp ChristensenAffiliated withTechnical University of Denmark, National Institute of Aquatic Resources, Charlottenlund Castle Email author 
  • , Per DolmerAffiliated withTechnical University of Denmark, National Institute of Aquatic Resources, Charlottenlund Castle
  • , Jens Kjerulf PetersenAffiliated withDanish Shellfish Centre
  • , Ditte TørringAffiliated withDanish Shellfish Centre


Blue mussels (Mytilus edulis L.) are a valuable resource for commercial shellfish production and may also have uses as a tool in habitat improvement, because mussel beds can increase habitat diversity and complexity. A prerequisite for both commercial mussel production and habitat improvement is the availability of seed mussels collected with minimum impact on the benthic ecosystem. To examine whether mussels collected in suspended cultures can be used for bottom culture production and as tool in habitat improvement, the differences in predatory defence responses between suspended and bottom mussels exposed to the predatory shore crab (Carcinus maenas L.) were tested in laboratory experiments and in the field. Predatory defence responses (byssal attachment and aggregation) and morphological traits were tested in laboratory, while growth and mortality were examined in field experiments. Suspended mussels had an active response in relation to the predator by developing a significantly firmer attachment to the substrate and a closer aggregated structure. Bottom mussels had a passive strategy by having a thicker shell and larger relative size of the adductor muscle. In a field experiment mussels originated from suspended cultures had a higher length increment and lower mortality when compared to bottom mussels. It is concluded that suspended mussels potentially are an alternative resource to bottom culture and can be used in habitat improvement of mussel beds, but that the use of suspended mussels has to be tested further in large-scale field experiments.


Predatory response Carcinus maenas Mytilus edulis Habitat improvement Bottom culture Long line culture