Estimating blue mussel (Mytilus edulis) connectivity and settlement capacity in mid-latitude fjord regions

Ana Corrochano-Fraile, Stefano Carboni, Darren M Green, John B Taggart, Thomas P Adams, Dmitry Aleynik, Michaël Bekaert

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Abstract

The mussel industry faces challenges such as low and inconsistent levels of larvae settlement and poor-quality spat, leading to variable production. However, mussel farming remains a vital sustainable and environmentally responsible method for producing protein, fostering ecological responsibility in the aquaculture sector. We investigate the population connectivity and larval dispersion of blue mussels (Mytilus edulis) in Scottish waters, as a case study, using a multidisciplinary approach that combined genetic data and particle modelling. This research allows us to develop a thorough understanding of blue mussel population dynamics in mid-latitude fjord regions, to infer gene-flow patterns, and to estimate population divergence. Our findings reveal a primary south-to-north particle transport direction and the presence of five genetic clusters. We discover a significant and continuous genetic material exchange among populations within the study area, with our biophysical model's outcomes aligning with our genetic observations. Additionally, our model reveals a robust connection between the southwest coast and the rest of the west coast. This study will guide the preservation of mussel farming regions, ensuring sustainable populations that contribute to marine ecosystem health and resilience.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalCommunications Biology
Volume7
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 9 Feb 2024

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