Wageningen Marine Research is studying the long-term development of a number of individual mussel beds in the Dutch part of the Wadden Sea to identify the characteristics that determine the survival of such beds. The study is being carried out as part of the WOT theme ‘Nature Information Infrastructure’. The results so far show that the mussel beds tend to gradually decrease in size, coverage and population density after the year in which they come into existence. The proportion of empty shells, algae and barnacles increases. The decline in size and coverage of mussel beds is occasionally interrupted by new mussel spatfall, after which the process starts again. Over the years, a mussel bed with multiple year classes and a diverse community gradually develops. Japanese oysters have settled in all beds, leading to large shifts in the mussel population. A good oyster spatfall in 2014 in two mussel beds located near the island Rottum and successful oyster growth in subsequent years has resulted in a large increase in oyster biomass in these beds
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