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Journal of Marine Biology
Volume 2011, Article ID 312459, 13 pages
Review Article

Feeding Behaviour of the Mussel, Mytilus edulis: New Observations, with a Minireview of Current Knowledge

Marine Biological Research Centre, University of Southern Denmark, Hindsholmvej 11, 5300 Kerteminde, Denmark

Received 15 June 2011; Accepted 21 July 2011

Academic Editor: Norman Ying Shiu Woo

Copyright © 2011 Hans Ulrik Riisgård et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Under optimal conditions, bivalves tend to filter the ambient water at a maximum rate but under suboptimal environmental conditions, including low or very high algal concentrations, the filtration rate is reduced. The upper algal concentration at which the blue mussel, Mytilus edulis, exploits its filtration capacity over an extended period of time was identified by stepwise raising the algal (Rhodomonas salina) concentration in steady-state experiments above the threshold for continuous high filtration rate. The duration time before incipient saturation reduction decreased with increasing algal concentration, and the threshold concentration for incipient saturation reduction of filtration activity was found to be between about 5,000 and 8,000 cells mL−1, equivalent to 6.3 and 10.0 μg chl a L−1, respectively. Reduced filtration rate was related to total number of algal cells ingested previous to incipient saturation and found to be 1 1 . 4 ± 1 . 7 × 1 0 6 cells. Video-microscope recordings of pseudofaeces production revealed that the trigger threshold concentration for formation of pseudofaeces was about 12,000 cells mL−1. Faeces produced by saturated mussels consisted of closely packed undigested algal cells, indicating severe overloading of the digestive system caused by high algal concentrations which mussels are not evolutionary adapted to cope with.