Bivalve feeding, competition and predation - what is at play?
UKF Grant 3A, N.52, October 2009 - March 2011
Project leader: Prof Melita Peharda Uljević, PhD
Institutions that participate in project:
UKF financing: 337.728 HRK
Co-financing: 85.172 HRK
BIVALVE FEEDING; COMPETITION AND PREDATION -
WHAT IS AT PLAY?
Bivalves play an important role in controlling phytoplankton and zooplankton community structure and abundance, but effects of bivalve community structure on ecosystem are poorly known. Bivalve harvesting and aquaculture influences bivalve community structure which, in turn, may influence ecosystem functioning. Development strategy for agriculture and fisheries sector in the Republic of Croatia calls for substantial increase in bivalve aquaculture. To achieve this increase in already cultured species in known areas, initiation of bivalve aquaculture at new locations and introduction of new bivalve species to aquaculture are needed. Data on bivalve feeding ecology are crucial for setting up log-term sustainable and environmentally friendly bivalve aquaculture. The main objective of this research is to determine weather predation and competition for food occur between different species of bivalves, what is the extent of these relations and what kind of impact it has on collection of bivalve spat from the wild and aquaculture production. We propose to do this by investigating seasonal changes in plankton community and bivalve stomach contents of several species. The proposed project will be conducted on four bivalve species: black mussel (Mytilus galloprovincialis) and European flat oyster (Ostrea edulis) from commercially cultured populations, and Noah’s ark shell (Arca noae) and horse-bearded mussel (Modiolus barbatus) from wild populations and experimental culture. These topics are not covered by the current research at the IOF, and UKF grant will help to start research on trophic relations and to investigate whether there is a competition for food in bivalve communities in the Adriatic. Results of this project will be applied for estimating carrying capacity of bivalve aquaculture, estimating need for spatial zoning of bivalve aquaculture in order to reduce interspecies competition and predation, and evaluate potential for commercial aquaculture of Arca noae and Modiolus barbatus.