|Dynamics of a Limecola (Macoma) balthica population in a tidal flat area in the western Wadden Sea: effects of declining survival and recruitment|Beukema, J.J.; Dekker, R.; Drent, J. (2017). Dynamics of a Limecola (Macoma) balthica population in a tidal flat area in the western Wadden Sea: effects of declining survival and recruitment. Helgol. Mar. Res. 71(1): 12. https://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s10152-017-0498-7
In: Helgoland Marine Research. Springer: Berlin; Heidelberg. ISSN 1438-387X, meer
Climate change; Long-term data; Population dynamics; Disease; Stock–recruitment relationship
We followed the dynamics of the population of the bivalve Limecola (Macoma) balthica in the westernmost part of the Wadden Sea by monitoring for 44 years (1973–2016) its numbers and age composition at 15 sites in a 50-km2 tidal-flat area. During the first half of this period, the annual recruitment and adult survival were at a relatively constant level, resulting in rather constant numbers. During the second half of the observation period, annual recruitment and adult survival showed declining trends, resulting in seriously reduced adult abundance. Sudden substantial reductions in adult survival started around 1996 at a few sites to spread over the entire area within 5 years, like an infectious disease. The resulting small adult stocks produced small numbers of recruits. The stock–recruitment curve showed an increasing part up to about 30 adults m−2, followed by invariably successful recruitments at > 40 adults m−2. Both recruitment and adult survival were negatively related to water temperatures. However, elevated temperatures after 1997 could not explain the very low survival rates observed after 1996 and the very low recruitment success after 2003. So far, recovery of the population has hardly taken place, with both recruitment and adult survival at lower levels than observed for the initial stable period.