Differences in morphology and habitat use among the native mussel Mytilus trossulus, the non-native M. galloprovincialis, and their hybrids in Puget Sound, Washington
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- Elliott, J., Holmes, K., Chambers, R. et al. Mar Biol (2008) 156: 39. doi:10.1007/s00227-008-1063-3
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Mytilus galloprovincialis (Mg), the Mediterranean blue mussel, is sympatric with the native M. trossulus (Mt) throughout much of the north Pacific, likely as the result of human introduction. We investigated the distribution of the two species and their hybrids (Mgt) in Puget Sound, Washington, to determine whether differences occur in habitat preference between the two species and hybrids. In addition, we investigated whether there were consistent size and shape differences between the native and introduced mussels and hybrids. Measurements of over 6,000 mussels from 30 sites, of which 1,460 were genotyped for a species-specific genetic marker, revealed that Mg and Mgt can be found throughout Puget Sound. Mg and Mgt were larger and exhibited a greater height:length ratio than Mt. Frequencies of Mg and Mgt were higher in subtidal habitats, such as docks, than on intertidal rocks, walls or pilings. Within intertidal habitats, Mg and Mgt were more frequent than Mt in the lower reaches of the intertidal. At slightly more than half the sites the frequency of the three genotypes accorded with random mating expectations suggesting no consistent barriers to gene flow between species. The standardized random sampling methods and simple morphometric identification techniques described here can be used to test whether the frequency of invasive mussels changes over time and space in Puget Sound.