In Mosselwad we investigate processes that determine the survival of mussel beds. This includes not only the beds that are exposed twice a day (littoral), but also the beds that are permanently submerged (sublittoral). We examine effects of erosion caused by strong currents and waves, attachment behaviour of mussels, and mussel predation by birds, crabs and starfish.
Interplay between erosion and predation
Knowledge of how these factors interact contributes to effective measures to restore mussel beds. Apart from building mussel beds experimentally, we aim to monitor the development of recovering mussel beds.
Monitoring mussels and birds
The project encompasses a number of complementing investigations:
• Cameras at elevated postions monitor mussel beds throughout the diurnal cycle, at locations on Balgzand (near Den Helder), De Cocksdorp (Texel), and Brakzand (between Lauwersoog and Schiermonnikoog). The images capture movements of water over the mussel beds, as well visiting birds.
• Populations of mussels and birds are systematically monitored on approximately twenty mussel beds scattered across the Wadden Sea.
• Using ships as platforms, we count birds that forage on mussels, or on organisms on or around the permanently exposed mussel beds.
In this project NIOZ collaborates with Vereniging Kust & Zee, IMARES Wageningen UR, Sovon Vogelonderzoek Nederland, and the Faculty of Geo Sciences at Utrecht University.