Polar Biology

, Volume 31, Issue 11, pp 1357–1363 | Cite as

Subtidal populations of the blue mussel Mytilus edulis as key determinants of waterfowl flocks in the southeastern Barents Sea

  • A. A. SukhotinEmail author
  • Yu. V. Krasnov
  • K. V. Galaktionov
Original Paper


Ornithological surveys conducted over the Pechora Sea (the southeastern part of the Barents Sea) in the 1990 s revealed huge non-nesting flocks of marine ducks, the largest in the European North. Especially dense waterfowl aggregations are constantly observed at the shallows near Dolgij Island during molting period and migration to wintering places. All the marine ducks flocking there are specialized benthos feeders predominantly consuming mussels Mytilus edulis. At the same time, numerous previous benthic studies in the Pechora Sea did not reveal mussels near Dolgij Island where benthic biomass was somewhat lower than in the adjacent areas (Denisenko in Mar Ecol Prog Ser 258:109–123. 2003) which left the food source for these abundant bird flocks enigmatic. In the course of an expedition in summer 2007 we found subtidal populations of M. edulis in shallows to the southwest of Dolgij Island. These populations were confined to a coastal zone and were characterized by a highly disjunct distribution with the biomass reaching up to 4 kg m−2. We describe these subtidal populations as well as an intertidal mussel population on the western shore of Dolgij Island.


Mytilus edulis Marine ducks Barents Sea Mussel population Mussel distribution Benthos 



The authors are indebted to Prof. Victor Ja. Berger for his help with organization of the expedition. We are grateful to Dr. Stanislav Denisenko, Dr. Howard Feder and Dr. David Norton for valuable consultations, comments and suggestions during the preparation of the manuscript. Special thanks are due to the crew of the scientific research vessel “Professor Vladimir Kuznetsov” and her captain, Jan E. Stelmakh, whose high professional skills made possible the work in the shallows off Dolgij Island. We thank Alexander Plotkin for his expertise in sponges species determination. The study was supported by the grants from INTAS (Ref. no. 05–1000008-8056) and the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (no. 07-04-10083-k).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. A. Sukhotin
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Yu. V. Krasnov
    • 3
  • K. V. Galaktionov
    • 1
  1. 1.White Sea Biological StationZoological Institute of Russian Academy of SciencesSt. PetersburgRussia
  2. 2.Biology DepartmentUniversity of North Carolina at CharlotteCharlotteUSA
  3. 3.Murmansk Marine Biological Institute of Russian Academy of SciencesMurmanskRussia

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