Do’s and Don’ts of Subtidal Mussel Reef Restoration

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Al Alder , Andrew Jeffs , Jenny Hillman

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The global loss of bivalve reefs combined with a growing awareness of the ecosystem benefits they provide has resulted in an upsurge of interest in their restoration. Although techniques for restoring oyster reefs are well-advanced, the effective restoration of mussel reefs lags well behind. Over the last two years, multiple field deployments and laboratory analyses in New Zealand have revealed critical “dos” and “don’ts” for green-lipped mussel (Perna canaliculus) restoration that will likely have a wider application. Do: Use adult mussels (70-100 mm shell lengths (SL)) to re-establish subtidal reefs – but be prepared for a very inefficient restoration program where 1-tonne of adult mussels will cover less than 10 m2. Don’t: Use juvenile mussels (10-30 mm SL) for the initial establishment of mussel reefs. Do: Use subadult mussels (30-50 mm SL) for more efficient mussel reef restoration, but don’t think it is as straightforward as spreading them across the seafloor like you do with adults – if you do, they will disappear. Do: Use subadult mussels when they are protected from, or are resistant to, predation and hydrodynamic dislodgement. Don’t: Use biodegradable substrate to improve subadult mussel survival. Do: Carefully source your subadult mussels used for restoration based on greater attachment thread thickness, thread number, and shell strength. Don’t: Assume this will work for all mussels, so do investigate this for other species and tidal zones!

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

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