Review of the functional morphology, biology and perturbation impacts on the boreal, habitat-forming horse mussel Modiolus modiolus (Bivalvia: Mytilidae: Modiolinae)

Grete E. Dinesen, Brian Morton

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

The boreal bivalve Modiolus modiolus is common subtidally where it aggregates to form extensive, long-lived, biogenic habitats with a diverse associated flora and, especially, fauna. Despite this ecological importance, M. modiolus has not been described in terms of its functional morphology and overall biology. Modiolus modiolus is a typical epibenthic, suspension-feeding mytilid, albeit with anatomical modifications adapting it to a partially buried, gregarious lifestyle in a stable environment experiencing medium–high energy levels. The juvenile shell is covered partly in byssal setae secreted by the byssal gland and foot complex and becomes covered in sand grains held in place by a mucoid cement secreted by the dorsal mantle. The camouflaged shell at this vulnerable time probably serves as an anti-predator device. Individuals grow to maximum shell lengths of ∼60–213 mm, depending on depth and locality. With age (≥ 20–45 years), shells often become deformed, particularly posteriorly and around the byssal gape, thereby increasing reproductive capacity (gonadal volume) without increasing somatic growth. Information on the biology, reproductive strategy and life history traits of M. modiolus are reviewed. These field- and laboratory-derived data provide us with essential information to aid future research into the protection and conservation of this ecologically important biogenic habitat. This is because, today, dredging and fishery activities using bottom-towed gear have seriously damaged several M. modiolus habitats with deleterious impacts on ecosystem functioning. Post-impact recovery times are slow and dependent on both local and mega-population distributions
Original languageEnglish
JournalMarine Biology Research
Volume10
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)845-870
ISSN1745-1000
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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