African Journal of Marine Science

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Short Communication

Further refutation of the primary-secondary settlement hypothesis for the brown mussel Perna perna

KE Reaugh, JM Harris, GM Branch


The primary-secondary settlement hypothesis, that mussels first settle in algae and then move to mussel beds, was rejected as the only mode of recruitment for the brown mussel Perna perna in a previous study at one location over one year on the south coast of South Africa. We investigated recruitment of P. perna into mussel beds and algal turfs over a five-year period (1995–2000) at 3–4 sites at each of four locations on the South and East coasts. Attachment to the two substrata was significantly temporally synchronous at two of the four locations. The disparity among locations could be due to differences in the algal species present or to differences in the importance of turf algae as a facilitator of recruitment. At Zululand, on the East Coast, attachment to mussel beds and algae was measured monthly and found not to be temporally synchronous. At this location, primary settlement into algae was significantly correlated with an increase in the density of juveniles in the mussel beds 2–3 months later, indicating that turf algae can act as irregular but important facultative facilitators of mussel recruitment, supplementing direct input into the mussel beds. However, as amounts of settlers and recruits in mussel beds exceeded those found in algal turfs most years and places, the primary-secondary settlement hypothesis is inapplicable to P. perna under most circumstances.

Keywords: Perna perna, primary-secondary settlement hypothesis, recruitment, rocky intertidal, turf algae

African Journal of Marine Science 2007, 29(3): 545–549
AJOL African Journals Online