Marine Biology

, Volume 125, Issue 1, pp 129–139 | Cite as

Genotype-specific growth of hard clams (genus Mercenaria) in a hybrid zone: variation among habitats

  • W. S. Arnold
  • T. M. Bert
  • D. C. Marelli
  • H. Cruz-Lopez
  • P. A. Gill


Shell growth rate is an important component of fitness in bivalve molluscs. Using the ω parameter computed from the von Bertalanffy growth equation, we quantitatively compared rates of annual shell grwoth among the hard clams Mercenaria mercenaria, M. campechiensis, and their hybrids sampled from a variety of habitats in the Indian River lagoon, Florida, USA, a zone of species overlap and natural hybridization. Our results indicate that the classical paradigm describing hard clam growth, in which growth rate is fastest in M. campechiensis, intermediate in hybrids, and slowest in M. mercenaria is not supported in the Indian River lagoon. Instead, M. campechiensis has a growth advantage in deep-water habitats in the northern section of our study area. In the central and southern sections of our study area, hybrids have a growth advantage over M. mercenaria in shallow-water habitats, but M. mercenaria has a growth advantage over hybrids in deep-water habitats. In all other sampled habitats, either growth rate among genotype classes is equal, or M. mercenaria has a growth advantage. This complex relationship between genotype and habitat-specific growth provides a mechanism for selection to act on hard clams in the Indian River.


Bivalve Hybrid Zone Bivalve Mollusc Growth Advantage Northern Section 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. S. Arnold
    • 1
  • T. M. Bert
    • 1
  • D. C. Marelli
    • 1
  • H. Cruz-Lopez
    • 1
  • P. A. Gill
    • 1
  1. 1.Florida Marine Research InstituteSt. PetersburgUSA

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