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In situ long-term monitoring of cardiac activity of two bivalve species from the White Sea, the blue mussel Mytilus edulis and horse mussel Modiolus modiolus

  • Igor N. Bakhmet (a1), Andrey Sazhin (a2), Nikolay Maximovich (a3) and Dmitry Ekimov (a4)

Cardiac activity of two White Sea Bivalvia species – Mytilus edulis and Modiolus modiolus – was monitored in situ for one full calendar year every 4 days. During the year, we also assessed the temperature and salinity of the ambient seawater (at intervals of 1 min), measured phytoplankton concentration (every 4 days) and checked the reproductive status of the molluscs (every 2 weeks). Our field study showed a significant linear correlation between the molluscs’ heart rates and the temperature of the ambient seawater. However, during specific periods of the year, we observed that phytoplankton composition or reproductive status became the dominant influence over cardiac activity. Phytoplankton concentrations were generally found to be low throughout the entire year, but two peak periods of drastically elevated phytoplankton concentration were found (April and May), and during April the peak heart rates of the blue mussels significantly increased. Spawning time took place in the middle of June, and at this time the cardiac activity of the molluscs did not change in spite of a 4°C temperature increase in the ambient seawater. Monitoring of the heart rates of the real intertidal blue mussels (animals located at the middle part of intertidal) revealed periodic fluctuations in cardiac activity that correlated strongly with tidal fluctuations. Cardiac activity in M. modiolus was significantly lower than in M. edulis from 9 May to 25 November. On the basis of our data, we concluded that the molluscs’ cardiac activity can serve not only as an indicator of the animals’ physiological conditions, but also as an indicator of changes in ambient factors.

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Author for correspondence: Igor N. Bakhmet, E-mail:
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Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom
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