Invasive Species Compendium

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Datasheet

Mytilus edulis
(common blue mussel)

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Datasheet

Mytilus edulis (common blue mussel)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 17 September 2020
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Threatened Species
  • Natural Enemy
  • Host Animal
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Mytilus edulis
  • Preferred Common Name
  • common blue mussel
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Mollusca
  •       Class: Bivalvia
  •         Subclass: Pteriomorphia

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Mytilus edulis (common blue mussel); adults en masse in habitat.
TitleHabit
CaptionMytilus edulis (common blue mussel); adults en masse in habitat.
Copyright©Andreas Trepte/www.photo-natur.net/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 2.5
Mytilus edulis (common blue mussel); adults en masse in habitat.
HabitMytilus edulis (common blue mussel); adults en masse in habitat.©Andreas Trepte/www.photo-natur.net/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 2.5

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Mytilus edulis Linnaeus 1758

Preferred Common Name

  • common blue mussel

International Common Names

  • English: bay mussel; blue mussel; common mussel; mussel, blue
  • Spanish: mejillón común
  • French: moule; moule commune

Local Common Names

  • Germany: Miesmuschel
  • Greece: mydi
  • Italy: miltilo
  • Turkey: midye

Overview

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Mussels include bysally attached bivalves belonging to more than 20 genera (see Soot-Ryen, 1955). Commercially important genera include Perna, Aulocomya, Chloromytilus, Musculus and Mytilus which dominates global production (Lutz et al., 1991). Mytilus species have been the object of major reviews over a long period (see for example Bayne, 1976a; Lutz, 1980; Figueras, 1989; Jamieson, 1989; Lutz et al., 1991; Gosling, 1992b; Mallet and Myrand, 1995) because of their widespread distribution and roles as ecological engineers (Seed et al., 2000), use as biomonitors (Widdows and Donkin, 1992) and great economic significance (McLeod, 2002).

Mussels have been consumed by people for most of human history as evidenced by their widespread occurrence in kitchen middens (see for example King and Cortes-Monroy, 2002; Gardner, 2004) and have been exploited in major fisheries, particularly in Europe, for centuries (Bol, 2002; Prou and Goulletquer, 2002). Mussels are ideally suited to aquaculture because they show wide tolerance of environmental conditions, are low in the food chain exploiting natural primary production, show high fecundity and productivity, grow naturally at high densities, and are tasty and nutritious and popular with consumers. Dense mussel populations serve as ‘environmental engineers’ and form the basis of structurally complex dynamic communities by increasing habitat heterogeneity and biodeposition and by modifying environmental processes such as water movement (Commito and Rusignuolo, 2000; Seed et al., 2000). Mytilus edulis is eurytopic and can tolerate wide fluctuations in salinity, desiccation, temperature and oxygen tension, enabling it to withstand the wide range of conditions found in high intertidal, estuarine, oceanic, warm and ice-scoured environments (Seed and Suchanek, 1992). This wide tolerance of environmental conditions and its byssal lifestyle have allowed the development of several different types of aquaculture under a range of environmental conditions (Lutz et al., 1991 and references therein).

Cultivation (mytilculture) is said to date back to mediaeval bouchot culture of Mytilus edulis and M. galloprovincialis in France (Hickman, 1992), but has periodically shown significant increases in production levels from 1945 to 1985 (Lutz et al., 1991), and production has continued at a high level to meet demand by consumers for this mid-priced shellfish (McLeod, 2002). Bottom cultivation of M. edulis, which is in effect a fisheries management strategy, developed in northern Europe in the mid 19th century in response to overfishing (Bol, 2002). Suspended cultivation started in the 1950s with raft cultivation of M. galloprovincialis in the Galicean Rias, Spain, and developed further in the 1970s with the global development and use of long-line systems for Mytilus and other mussel species. Since the 1980s, long-line cultivation has developed further as a result of major expansion in China, where it is supported by hatchery seed production (Tang et al., 2002), so that Chinese production dominates global output (McLeod, 2002). In 2002, global mussel production (all species) was 1.7 million MT; approximately 85% of this was from aquaculture and valued at over US $0.7 billion [Fisheries Global Information System (FIGIS), 2005]. In comparison, global aquaculture production for 2002 was 4.3 million MT of oysters (US $3.6 billion), 1.2 million MT of scallops (US $1.7 billion) and 3.4 million MT of other bivalves (US $3.7 billion) (FIGIS, 2005). Recent global capture production and aquaculture production data for M. edulis can be found on the fact sheet for M. edulis produced by the FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department (2020).

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Mollusca
  •             Class: Bivalvia
  •                 Subclass: Pteriomorphia
  •                     Order: Mytiloida
  •                         Unknown: Mytiloidea
  •                             Family: Mytilidae
  •                                 Genus: Mytilus
  •                                     Species: Mytilus edulis

Description

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Morphology

Mussels have a posteriorly expanded and ventrally flattened shell with unequal sized adductor mussels (heteromyarian) (Morton, 1992) as a direct consequence of byssal attachment (Yonge, 1976). This mytiliform condition, which has also evolved independently in other taxa such as freshwater dreissenids (or Dreissenacea), allows mussels to form dense, gregarious populations (Morton, 1992) without compromising the strength of byssal attachment or feeding ability of individuals. The shell shows colour polymorphism (Seed, 1976); in younger specimens the shell is horn coloured, frequently marked with blue and brown rays, and it darkens in older specimens to a deep purplish blue.

Distribution

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Mytilus edulis, Mytilus trossulus and Mytilus galloprovincialis are sibling species which have distinct but overlapping distributions (see Gosling, 1992c) and may hybridize in areas of overlap (Wonham, 2004 and references therein). M. edulis occurs in the northeast and northwest Atlantic; M. trossulus occurs in the north Pacific, northwest Atlantic, and Baltic; M. galloprovincialis occurs in the Mediterranean, northeast Atlantic, California, Japan, South Africa, Australasia and Chile, some of these populations being introduced rather than native (Wonham, 2004). In addition, M. edulis-like mussels occur in South America (McDonald et al., 1991) (although according to Illanes (2002), most aquacultured mussels in Chile are M. chilensis which according to WoRMS Editorial Board (2020) is a separate species); M. edulis is reported from the northwest Pacific (Tang et al., 2002); it has been introduced to British Columbia (western Canada) (Gurney-Smith et al., 2017; Shields et al., 2010); and M. edulis DNA has been detected in Australia and New Zealand (Westfall and Gardner, 2010; Colgan and Middelfart, 2011). Current views suggest that the genus Mytilus arose in the north Pacific and that approximately 3.5 million years ago M. trossulus migrated through the Bering Strait to the north Atlantic where M. edulis arose; M. galloprovincialis subsequently diverged from M. edulis stocks in the Mediterranean (Wonham, 2004). Thereafter, M. galloprovincialis and M. edulis migrated to the southern hemisphere. This situation is further complicated as a result of possible accidental introductions to other regions by shipping (Wonham, 2004). Most stocks of these different taxa have been fished or are now cultivated because of their inherent suitability for aquaculture. Mytilus species can be cultivated in most situations except those of extreme wave action or where temperatures exceed 25°C.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Last updated: 16 Sep 2020
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Reference Notes

Africa

NigeriaAbsent, Unconfirmed presence record(s)Ajani and Oyebola (2010)Reported as cultured in fresh water, which is not the normal habitat for this species

Asia

ChinaPresentTang QiSheng et al. (2002); CABI (2020a)
-LiaoningPresentTang QiSheng et al. (2002)
-ShandongPresentTang QiSheng et al. (2002)
South KoreaPresentCABI (Undated)Original citation: Korea-US Aquaculture (2005)

Europe

DenmarkPresentNativeHickman (1992)
FrancePresentNativeHickman (1992)
GermanyPresentNativeHickman (1992)
IcelandPresentNativeIcelandic Blue Mussel Project (2005)
IrelandPresentNativeHickman (1992)
NetherlandsPresentNativeHickman (1992)
NorwayPresentNativeHickman (1992)
SwedenPresentNativeHickman (1992)
United KingdomPresentNativeHickman (1992)
-Channel IslandsPresentNativeHickman (1992)

North America

CanadaPresentNative and IntroducedAquaculture Atlas of Canada (2003); Gurney-Smith et al. (2017)Native to east coast; introduced to west coast
-British ColumbiaPresentIntroducedShields et al. (2010); Gurney-Smith et al. (2017)Cultured and wild. Introduced in the 1980s as alternative to native species in aquaculture.
-New BrunswickPresentNativeAquaculture Atlas of Canada (2003); Doiron (2006)Interest in rearing although overwintering is a challenge
-Newfoundland and LabradorPresentNativeAquaculture Atlas of Canada (2003)
-Nova ScotiaPresentNativeAquaculture Atlas of Canada (2003)
-Prince Edward IslandPresentNativeAquaculture Atlas of Canada (2003)
-QuebecPresentNativeAquaculture Atlas of Canada (2003)
United StatesPresentKing and Cortés-Monroy (2002); CABI (Undated a)
-ConnecticutPresentNativeKing and Cortés-Monroy (2002)
-MainePresentNativeKing and Cortés-Monroy (2002)
-MarylandPresentNativeKing and Cortés-Monroy (2002)
-MassachusettsPresentNativeKing and Cortés-Monroy (2002)
-New HampshirePresentNativeKing and Cortés-Monroy (2002)
-Rhode IslandPresentNativeKing and Cortés-Monroy (2002)

Oceania

AustraliaPresentColgan and Middelfart (2011)Mitochondrial DNA of European M. edulis detected in south-eastern Australia
New ZealandPresentWestfall and Gardner (2010)M. edulis genes found in mussels from the Auckland Islands

Sea Areas

Atlantic - NortheastPresentNativeGosling (1992)
Atlantic - NorthwestPresentNativeGosling (1992)
Atlantic - SouthwestPresentGosling (1992)
Indian Ocean - EasternPresentColgan and Middelfart (2011)Mitochondrial DNA of European M. edulis detected in south-eastern Australia
Pacific - NorthwestPresentTang QiSheng et al. (2002)
Pacific - SoutheastPresentGosling (1992)
Pacific - SouthwestPresentWestfall and Gardner (2010); Colgan and Middelfart (2011)M. edulis genes found in mussel populations

South America

ArgentinaPresentNativeHickman (1992)
UruguayPresentNativeHickman (1992)

Invasive Species Threats

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Invasive SpeciesWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
Austrominius modestusUKCompetition - monopolizing resourcesHarding, 1948

References

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ABARE, 2005. ABARE eReport 03.8. Online at www.abareconomics.com/pdf/Mussels.pdf. Accessed 9 June 2005

Ajani, E. K., Oyebola, O. O., 2010. Growth performance of blue mussel (mytilus edulis) in Ofiki River, Oyo State, Nigeria. African Journal of Livestock Extension, 8, unpaginated.

Andrews EB, Jennings KH, 1993. The anatomical and ultrastructural basis of primary urine formation in bivalve molluscs. Journal of Molluscan Studies, 59(2):223-257

Aquaculture Atlas of Canada, 2003. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Online at http://atn-riae.agr.ca/seafood/aquaculture-e.htm. Accessed 16 June 2005

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Bayne BL, Hawkins AJS, 1992. Ecological and physiological aspects of herbivory in benthic suspension-feeding mollusks. In: John DM, Hawkins SJ, Price JH, eds. Plant-animal interaction in the marine benthos. Systematic Association Symposia Series. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press

Bayne BL, Thompson RJ, Widdows J, 1976. Physiology: I. In: Bayne BL, ed. Marine mussels, their ecology and physiology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 121-206

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Davidson, J. D. P., Landry, T., Johnson, G. R., Ramsay, A., Quijón, P. A., 2016. A field trial to determine the optimal treatment regime for Ciona intestinalis on mussel socks. Management of Biological Invasions, 7(2), 167-179. doi: 10.3391/mbi.2016.7.2.04

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Distribution References

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Links to Websites

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WebsiteURLComment
Animal Diversity Webhttp://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Mytilus_edulis/
Cultured Aquatic Species Information Program FIGIS: Mytilus edulishttp://www.fao.org/figis/servlet/static?dom=culturespecies&xml=Mytilus_edulis.xmlprovided by: Inland Water Resources and Aquaculture Service (FIRI)
Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Gulf Region - Profile of the Blue Musselhttps://waves-vagues.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/Library/270029-e.pdf

Contributors

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10/12/2017 Updated by:

Vicki Bonham, consultant, UK

Main Author
David "Dai" Roberts
Marine Systems Research Group, School of Biology and Biochemistry, Medical Biology Centre, Queen's University, Belfast BT9 7BL, UK

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