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The population structure and biology of the ocean quahog, Arctica islandica, in Belfast Lough, Northern Ireland

Ridgway, I. D., Richardson, C. A., Scourse, J. D., Butler, P. G. and Reynolds, David J. 2012. The population structure and biology of the ocean quahog, Arctica islandica, in Belfast Lough, Northern Ireland. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 92 (3) , pp. 539-546. 10.1017/S0025315411000154

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The spatial distribution, density, growth rate, longevity, mortality and recruitment patterns of the long-lived clam Arctica islandica in Belfast Lough, Northern Ireland, UK are described. The A. islandica population at Belfast Lough appears to be restricted to a small area at the mouth of the Lough. Additional searches for specimens further into the Lough and into deeper waters found no evidence of a larger more widespread population and we report population densities of 4.5 individuals m−2. The ages of the clams were determined from the number of internal annual growth lines in acetate peel replicas of shell sections. The population growth curve was fitted using the Von Bertalanffy growth equation: Lt = 93.7 mm (1−e−0.03(t–1.25)). Based on catch curve analysis, the Belfast Lough population has an estimated longevity of 220 years and a natural mortality rate of 0.02. We compare growth characteristics and life history traits in this population with other analogous A. islandica populations. The overall growth performance and the phi-prime index were used to compare growth parameters with data from the literature and we observed no significant relationship between the growth performance indices and longevity or latitude. Analysis of the age-structure and reconstructed dates of settlement indicate that this population has experienced almost continual recruitment over the last century with a gap in successful recruitment into the population 90–100 years ago and another 140–150 years ago. The size-structure revealed a scarcity of small individuals which we believe may be an artefact of the dredge sampling process.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Ocean Sciences
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISSN: 0025-3154
Last Modified: 08 May 2019 02:43

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