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Georgia Journal of Science

Article Title

INVESTIGATING BYSSAL THREAD PRODUCTION IN NATIVE AND NON-NATIVE MUSSELS IN JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA**

Abstract

Non-native species can negatively impact environments where they have been introduced, including marine ecosystems. International shipping coupled with climate change may play a major role in this movement of non-native species into environments where they were not previously found. In particular, marine mussels including the Charru mussel (Mytella charuanna) and the Asian green mussel (Perna viridis), native to Asia and South and Central America, respectively, have been introduced to the Florida and Georgia coastlines. These mussels have been shown to be problematic since they heavily foul local substrates and commercially important species such as oysters, by using fine collagenous fibers called byssal threads for attachment. Many marine invertebrates respond to chemical cues emitted by predators in the water and can rapidly bring about defenses to perceived threats. These defenses include shell thickening, and increasing the strength of byssal thread attachment to the substrate. Mussels are capable of differentiating between various predator types and can adjust their defenses accordingly. While these defense responses have been highly documented in native mussel species, little literature exists pertaining to relationships between non-native mussels and native predators. This study seeks to explore differences between how native and non-native species of mussels respond to the chemical cues of injured conspecifics and various native invertebrates, including predators (sea stars, crabs) and non-predators (sea urchins). After being collected from the St. Johns River in Jacksonville, FL, native and non-native mussels will be exposed to chemical effluent from one of the following treatments: injured conspecific, sea star, crab, sea urchin and control. To measure a response of these native and non-native mussels, byssal thread count and strength, and relative movement will be quantified. This study will help us understand more about the biology and behavior of non-native mussels in their introduced ranges.

Acknowledgements

UWG Department of Biology, UWG College of Science and Mathematics

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