Patterns of recruitment are important when determining community
dynamics and adult abundance within an ecosystem. Mussels (Mytilus spp.)
are an ecologically important foundation species that provide complex
habitat for a diverse suite of marine species and are used as biological
indicators for environmental pollution. To use mussels as biological
indicators, we must understand the timing of mussel dispersal and
recruitment. In coastal intertidal zones, mussel populations are kept in
check through predation by sea stars, a keystone species, which opens up
primary substrate for other sessile invertebrates and algae.
Understanding mussel population dynamics is important to make
predictions about how intertidal ecosystems will respond to loss of
keystone predators through sea star wasting disease. To see if mussel
recruitment was impacted by sea star wasting disease, we used tuffy
collectors to monitor mussel recruitment in the intertidal at Hopkins
Marine Station Marine Life Refuge. After tuffy collectors are filtered
and sorted under a dissecting microscope, we will look for changes in
mussel recruitment during and after the sea star wasting disease event.
We expect higher numbers of mussel recruitment during the peak of the
sea star wasting disease from 2013 to 2014.