Biodiversity of benthic animals
Samples from areas with mussels have twice as much biodiversity of benthic animals than areas without mussels. Of the 123 species that were identified during the study, 46 were positively associated with the mussel. Mussel accumulations are therefore “hotspots” for biodiversity.
The comparison between wild banks and cultured parcels showed that both areas have great biodiversity; on wild banks a total of 84 benthic species were identified, compared to 102 species on cultured parcels.
Areas with mussels are characterised by the presence of certain species. Catworms, beach crabs and starfish were found more often, or in larger numbers, on the cultured parcels. Baltic tellin and sand gaper were more common on wild banks.
On cultured parcels, therefore, at least as many species of benthic animals occur as on wild mussel banks, even though the mussels are harvested a certain point and replaced by new mussel seed. The high biodiversity on cultured parcels is due in part to their location. Generally speaking, they are located closer to the open sea, where the salinity is somewhat higher and more stable, which allows more species to thrive.