Population dynamics of the soft-shell clam Mya arenaria

  • Brousseau D
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Abstract

A life table was constructed for M. arenaria from Gloucester, Massachusetts, USA, based on schedules of age-specific fecundity and mortality determined under natural conditions. Mortality rates decrease with size and age in this species, with the period of maximum mortality occurring during the summer months. Mortality rates during the fall and winter were considerably lower, perhaps due to the inactivity of natural predators. The survivorship curve for M. arenaria approximates the Type 3 curve of Deevey (1947). Mean life expectancy is low in recently-settled clams, peaks when the individual reaches 30.0 to 34.9 mm (1 year of age), and remains fairly high for most of the remainder of life. The intrinsic rate of natural increase (rSUB-max ) is very high: 4.74. This enormous rate of potential increase is offset by high rates of larval mortality in the plankton. Unlike the reproductive values of most animals studied, those in M. arenaria peak late in life, well after the known age of first reproduction. This is probably the result of increased fecundity with age. The implications of this work in the area of resource management are discussed.

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Authors

  • D. J. Brousseau

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