Early post-settlement mortality of the scallop Pecten fumatus and the role of algal mats as a refuge from predation

T. Mendo*, J. M. Lyle, N. A. Moltschaniwskyj, J. M. Semmens

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Early post-settlement mortality is one of the main processes determining distribution and abundance patterns of marine benthic invertebrates. Most scallops have an attached phase as spat before they release the byssus and move onto the soft sediments. Thus, spat differ from other stages of life in their use of microhabitat, lack of mobility, and therefore in their vulnerability to mortality processes such as predation. However, the contribution of predation to explain levels of mortality experienced by spat and early juvenile scallops is unknown. Complex habitats such as seagrasses and algae provide a substrate upon which spat can attach and might confer an advantage as a refuge from predation. This study investigates the contribution of early post-settlement predation on abundance of Pecten fumatus and determines the role of the algae Hincksia sordida as a refuge from predation. Data were collected using field observations, a predator exclusion experiment, and tethering techniques. Mortality of up to 85% during the first weeks after settlement appeared to have prevented the establishment of an adult population at our study site. Mats of the macroalgae H. sordida provided a settlement substrate for P. fumatus spat. However, increased algal biomass did not provide greater protection from predation to juvenile scallops than lower algal biomass. Our study suggests that prey survival in submersed vegetation is likely to be dynamic among years, and affected by prey behaviour and density as well as the characteristics of the submerged vegetation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2322-2331
Number of pages10
JournalICES Journal of Marine Science
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Bivalves
  • Habitat complexity
  • Macroalgae
  • Predation
  • Submersed vegetation


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