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Predation on soft-shell clams (Mya arenaria) by the nemertean Cerebratulus lacteus in Atlantic Canada: implications for control measures

Abstract

The nemertean, Cerebratulus lacteus Verrill (Nemertinea: Heteronemertini), has been identified as an important threat to soft-shell clam (Mya arenariaL.) populations in Atlantic Canada. The biology of this species, however, is still largely unknown. Field and laboratory studies were undertaken in 1998 and 1999 in Prince Edward Island, Canada, to test certain control measures to reduce predation on soft-shell clam populations and to better describe the relationship between C. lacteus and M. arenaria. Field abundance of C. lacteus, M. arenaria and Nereis virens Sars were evaluated in relation to particular habitat modifications that were used as control measures. Sediment manipulations tested were: (1) addition of shells and (2) use of a hydraulic rake. No difference was observed on the abundance of C. lacteus, M. arenaria and N. virens after treatments were applied. In the laboratory, C. lacteus was shown to be an efficient predator of M. arenaria. Clam mortalities reached 100% in the presence of C. lacteus while 0% mortality was observed in its absence. A complementary set of experiments was carried out to see if the sympatric polychaetes N. virens and Glycera dibranchiata Ehlers had any impact on the relationship between C. lacteus and M. arenaria. N. virens showed no impact on C. lacteus predation on clams. The presence of G. dibranchiata significantly reduced the nemertean predation rate. Analysis of clam size selection revealed no significant preference by C. lacteus. Other experimental studies revealed that high predator densities did not impede predation on clams and that C. lacteus preferred soft-shell clams among other commercial bivalve species presented (Mercenaria mercenariaL., Crassostrea virginica Gmelin and Mytilus edulisL.). This study should provide a better understanding of the relationship between C. lacteus and M. arenaria and lead to the development of improved nemertean control measures.

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Correspondence to Gilles Miron.

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Bourque, D., Miron, G. & Landry, T. Predation on soft-shell clams (Mya arenaria) by the nemertean Cerebratulus lacteus in Atlantic Canada: implications for control measures. Hydrobiologia 456, 33–44 (2001). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1013061900032

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1013061900032

  • predation
  • Cerebratulus lacteus
  • Mya arenaria
  • prey selection
  • aquaculture
  • control measures