Scope for growth ofMytilus galloprovincialis(Lmk., 1819) in oligotrophic coastal waters (Southern Tyrrhenian Sea, Italy)

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The ‘scope for growth' (SFG) tool was used to study the growth performance of cultivated populations of Mytilus galloprovincialis (Lmk., 1819) in an oligotrophic area of the Southern Mediterranean Sea. The study was carried out between 1993 and 1996 by using data from four seasonal oceanographic cruises and from growth experiments. Water samples were collected and analysed for total suspended matter (TSM), particulate organic carbon (POC) and nitrogen (PON), particulate lipids, proteins and carbohydrates and chloropigments. The sum of the carbon equivalents of carbohydrates, proteins and lipids is indicated as the total biopolymeric particulate organic carbon (BPC) and was converted into a unit of energy in order to calculate the SFG of a theoretical mussel of 5 cm length. In order to test the performance of mussel growth at two depths (5 and 15 m water depth), mussel body size [as ash free dry weight (AFDW)] and the actual concentrations of BPC were used to calculate the monthly SFG using the physiological energetic relationships suggested in the current literature. Data from the field cruises led us to characterise the study site as ultra-oligotrophic (annual average of chloropigment concentration approximately 0.5 μg L-1). SFG calculations allowed us to identify a site where mussels grown successively were found to reach a commercial size in approximately 12 months. The good agreement obtained between energetic response and subsequent production response suggests that the available energy from particulate food could be fully available for organic production for maintaining “proportionate” growth trajectories, even in a ultra-oligotrophic system.

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