Habitat characteristics predicting distribution and abundance patterns of scallops in D'Entrecasteaux Channel, Tasmania

Tania Mendo, Jeremy M. Lyle, Natalie A. Moltschaniwskyj, Sean R. Tracey, Jayson M. Semmens

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14 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Habitat characteristics greatly influence the patterns of distribution and abundance in scallops, providing structure for the settlement of spat and influencing predation risk and rates of survival. Establishing scallop-habitat relationships is relevant to understanding the ecological processes that regulate scallop populations and to managing critical habitats. This information is particularly relevant for the D'Entrecasteaux Channel, south-eastern Tasmania (147.335 W, 43.220 S), a region that has supported significant but highly variable scallop production over many years, including protracted periods of stock collapse. Three species of scallops are present in the region; the commercial scallop Pecten fumatus, the queen scallop Equichlamys bifrons, and the doughboy scallop Mimachlamys asperrima . We used dive surveys and Generalized Additive Modelling to examine the relationship between the distribution and abundance patterns of each species and associated habitat characteristics. The aggregated distribution of each species could be predicted as a function of sediment type and species-specific habitat structural components. While P. fumatus was strongly associated with finer sediments and E. bifrons with coarse grain sediments, M. asperrima had a less selective association, possibly related to its ability to attach on a wide range of substrates. Other habitat characteristics explaining P. fumatus abundance were depth, Asterias amurensis abundance, shell and macroalgae cover. Equichlamys bifrons was strongly associated with macroalgae and seagrass cover, whereas M. asperrima abundance was greatly explained by sponge cover. The models define a set of relationships from which plausible hypotheses can be developed. We propose that these relationships are mediated by predation pressure as well as the specific behavioural characteristics of each species. The findings also highlight the specific habitat characteristics that are relevant for spatial management and habitat restoration plans.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere85895
JournalPLoS One
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jan 2014

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