ABSTRACT The effects of salinities between 10 and 30 psu on the growth of blue mussels, Mytilus edulis, were studied in laboratory feeding experiments and compared to the growth of mussels suspended in net-bags in the brackish water Great Belt, Denmark. In the laboratory, 3 series of growth experiments were conducted: in Series #1, groups of mussels were exposed to 10, 15, 25 and 30 psu, in Series #2, two groups of mussels were exposed to 10 and 30 psu, respectively, for 15 days (first period) where upon the mussels were exposed to the reversed salinities for another 15 days (second period). In Series #3, two groups of mussels were initially exposed to 15 and 25 psu for 22 days whereupon the mussel groups were exposed to the reversed salinities for another 17 days. In the laboratory experiments there was a tendency towards reduced growth with decreasing salinity, reflected as reduced shell growth rate and decreasing weight specific growth rate with falling salinity. The shell growth rate was relatively low in the first feeding period compared to the second period, and mussels that were initially exposed to 10 psu, where the growth was low, exhibited fast growth when subsequently exposed to 30 psu, and reversed when 30 psu mussels were exposed to 10 psu. The study showed that mussels are able to adjust growth at changing salinities, and the observed effect of salinity could partly be explained by a temporary shell valve closure after a sudden change in salinity. The specific growth rate of mussels measured in laboratory experiments at salinities between 15 to 25 psu (4.2% to 4.8% d–1) were comparable to the growth of mussels in the field experiment (3.2% to 4.0% d–1) where the salinity varied between 24 and 13 psu during the growth period.
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