Testing habitat suitability for mussel restoration after large scale decline

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Emilee Benjamin, Trevyn Toone, Sean Handley, Andrew Jeffs, Jenny Hillman

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Natural green-lipped mussel (Perna canaliculus) populations are scarcely found in places where they once flourished throughout New Zealand, although they provide vital ecosystem services for our oceans. While restoration efforts have been attempted in the North Island, there has yet to be any wide scale restoration effort on the South Island, including the Marlborough Sounds. The Marlborough Sounds are a unique environment located in the top of the South Island, but with the loss of the native natural bivalves, the once-flourishing benthic community has experienced a shift. This shift may have impacted the environment such that it is no longer suitable to support mussel populations. With this in mind an effort to test habitat suitability at five locations that previously supported mussels began in January 2020. We transplanted four tonnes of local brood stock into these five locations in the Marlborough Sounds. At each location we performed preliminary surveys to characterize site differences including sediment analyses and benthic community characterization. The mussels were placed in three, 2.25 m2 plots at each location. Mussel survival, density, growth, and condition were recorded four times over a year. Mussel survival was high across all five sites after one year and each of these 15 plots of mussels will continue to be monitored for an additional year. As well as its relevance locally, the study more broadly provides insight for assessing suitable habitats to maximize efficiency and success of future restoration efforts.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program