Aquatic Ecology

, Volume 31, Issue 4, pp 349–359 | Cite as

A review of the feedbacks between bivalve grazing and ecosystem processes

  • Theo C. Prins
  • Aad C. Smaal
  • Richard F. Dame


This paper gives an overview of interactions betweenbivalve grazing and ecosystem processes, that mayaffect the carrying capacity of ecosystems for bivalvesuspension feeders. These interactions consist of anumber of positive and negative feedbacks.Bivalve grazing can result in local food depletion,which may negatively influence bivalve growth. On alarger scale, it may induce a top-down control ofphytoplankton biomasss, and structural shifts inphytoplankton composition. In the case of harmfulalgal blooms, phytoplankton may negatively affectbivalve grazing rates.The processing of large amounts of particulate mattermay change nutrient cycling on the scale of estuaries,and can result in changes in the inorganic nutrientpool available for phytoplankton, through regenerationand reduced storage of nutrients in algal biomass.This can reduce nutrient limitation of thephytoplankton and stimulate algal growth rates.Observations from mesocosm studies suggest that apositive feedback from bivalve grazing onphytoplankton growth may also change the physiologicalstate of the algae and improve food quality.

suspension-feeding bivalves phytoplankton nutrient cycling primary production carrying capacity 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Theo C. Prins
    • 1
    • 2
  • Aad C. Smaal
    • 3
  • Richard F. Dame
    • 2
  1. 1.Netherlands Institute of Ecology, Centre for Estuarine and Coastal EcologyYersekeThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Marine Science DepartmentCoastal Carolina UniversityConwayUSA
  3. 3.National Institute for Coastal and Marine Management/RIKZMiddelburgThe Netherlands

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