Ribbed mussels (Geukensia demissa) are important salt marsh species. They are very widespread from MA to FL with salinity preferences of 8 to 30 ppt. They are often quite abundant in marshes forming large aggregates and have a mutualistic relationship with marsh cordgrass. Mussels tend to aggregate around cordgrass stems, stimulate marsh plant root and rhizome growth with their biodeposits, and bind sediment which increases marsh height, stabilizes the marsh, and reduces erosion. In turn, high density clumps of marsh plants serve as predator and/or heat stress refuge for mussels. An interesting fun fact about mussels is that they are one of the few bivalves able to forage on small-sized bacterioplankton and are able to efficiently remove a wider-range of sizes of particulate organic material then many bivalves.
Our research on mussels explores what factors drive their distribution and abundance throughout the estuary, their capacity to enhance marsh nitrogen removal, as well as their recruitment in the created marshes of living shorelines.
- Isdell, R. E., D. M. Bilkovic, C. Hershner. 2018. Shorescape-level factors drive distribution and condition of a salt marsh facilitator (Geukensia demissa). Ecosphere 9(10):e02449. 10.1002/ecs2.2449 (link)
- Bilkovic, D.M., M. Mitchell, M. Schliep, R. Isdell, A. Smyth. 2017. Mutualism between ribbed mussels and cordgrass enhance salt marsh nitrogen removal. Ecosphere 8(4):e01795. (link)
- Bilkovic, D.M., M.M. Mitchell. 2017. Designing living shoreline salt marsh ecosystems to promote coastal resilience. Chapter In Living Shorelines: The Science and Management of Nature-based Coastal Protection In D.M. Bilkovic, M. Mitchell, M. La Peyre, and J. Toft (eds), CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group. (link)