Coastal mussel banks: The importance for the fish fauna and possibilities for habitat restoration (MusFisk) (39133)

Project Details


Coastal mussel banks are commonly assumed to be good areas for recreational fishing, but few quantitative studies have investigated how fish abundance and diversity covary with mussel coverage. In many Danish coastal waters, mussel coverage is reduced compared to historic records, but the impact of the reduction on coastal fisheries remains largely unknown.

This project investigates fish abundance and diversity in various coastal habitats to predict possible effects of mussel bank restoration projects. Because it is increasingly recognized that restoration of coastal habitats support both pelagic and benthic fisheries, this study hypothesized that mussel banks may provide important shelter and foraging habitats for various trophic levels of fish. Covering different habitats, catch per unit effort (CPUE) was quantified using fyke nets, and fish abundance and behaviours were measured using stationary underwater video cameras. These studies revealed that blue mussel (Mytilus edulis) banks support fish abundance and diversity comparable to areas covered by eel grass (Zostera marina), indicating that mussel bank restoration projects could benefit fisheries in a fashion similar to eel grass habitats. Moreover, fish abundance, but not diversity, differed between mussel banks exposed to different current velocity regimes, suggesting that mussel banks exposed to higher current velocities support higher fish abundances. These findings indicate that mussel bank restoration carried out in high current velocity regimes may provide the most favorable habitats for fish. Surprisingly, fish behaviours were similar in different current velocity regimes, suggesting comparable ecological function of the habitats.

Planned data collection in 2016 includes experimental manipulations of mussel coverage in laboratory studies where habitat preferences and stress levels (cortisol) will be examined in a number of fish species. These findings will be useful to test findings from the field studies and help predicting the effects of mussel bank restoration in coastal areas.

This project is  is funded by the Danish Rod and Net Fishing License Funds.

Research area: Coastal Ecology
Research area: Observation Technology
Effective start/end date01/01/201431/12/2019


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