Context-dependency of eelgrass-clam interactions: implications for coastal restoration

Lukas Meysick, Alf Norkko, Karine Gagnon, Max Gräfnings, Christoffer Boström

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Facilitative interactions between co-occurring species sustain diverse communitiesand constitute a vital functional component of coastal marine ecosystems. In seagrass ecosystems,facilitation ensures the survival and resilience of this important habitat. As seagrass meadows arein decline, innovative restoration strategies incorporating facilitative interactions could open newavenues in marine restoration. Here, we investigated the interactions between eelgrass Zosteramarina and the Baltic clam Macoma balthica, and tested whether clams could enhance early survival and biomass increase of transplanted eelgrass shoots in the northern Baltic Sea. We measured eelgrass responses to differing densities of clams, as well as porewater ammonium (NH4+)and phosphate (PO43−) concentrations in field and aquarium experiments. Overall, survival oftransplanted plots was high, independent of clam density. Specifically, we found that clams facilitated eelgrass above- and below-ground biomass in low porewater nutrient conditions, potentially through nutrient release, but inhibited growth in high-nutrient conditions, particularly whereclams were added at high densities. Our results show the important role of infaunal bivalves fornutrient fluxes within seagrass meadows. Most notably, we highlight the importance of considering and testing context- and density-dependency when studying interspecific interactions, asclams could both benefit and hamper Zostera biomass increase. This becomes particularly crucialwhen incorporating such interactions in a restoration context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93–108
Number of pages16
JournalMarine Ecology Progress Series
Publication statusPublished - 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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