Physiological ecology of a mussel with methanotrophic endosymbionts at three hydrocarbon seep sites in the Gulf of Mexico

E. R. Nix, C. R. Fisher, J. Vodenichar, K. M. Scott

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70 Scopus citations


In situ growth rates were determined, using two, 1-yr mark/recapture experiments, conducted between September 1991 and July 1993, for an undescribed mytilid, Seep Mytilid Ia, at three hydrocarbon seep sites in the Gulf of Mexico. The sites are located at depths of 540 to 730m, approximately 27°45′N; 91°30′W, and are separated by distances of 6 to 18 miles. These seep mytilids harbor methanotrophic endosymbionts and use methane as both a carbon and energy source. The mussel habitats were chemically characterized by analysis of water samples taken from precisely located microenvironments over, among and below the mussels, using small-volume, interstitial water samplers and the "Johnson Sea Link" submersible. Substantial differences were found in habital conditions, growth rates, and population structure for the mussels at the three sites examined. The growth rate of these seep mytilids reflects the methane concentration in their immediate habitat. Mussels at sites with abundant methane had growth rates that were comparable to shallow water mytilids at similar temperatures (5 to 8°C) with increases in shell length up to 17 mm yr-1 documented for smaller mussels (<40 mm shell length). In conjunction with measurements of growth rates, three condition indices (glycogen content, tissue water content, and the ratio of ash-free dry weight to shell volume) were used to determine the relationship between the condition of the mussels, their growth rates, and their habitat chemistry. The three condition indices were correlated with growth rate and were often significantly different between mussels in different samples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)605-617
Number of pages13
JournalMarine Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 1995

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology


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