A review of the feedbacks between bivalve grazing and ecosystem processes

T.C. Prins, A.C. Smaal, R.F. Dame

    Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review


    This paper gives an overview of interactions between bivalve grazing and ecosystem processes, that may affect the carrying capacity of ecosystems for bivalve suspension feeders. These interactions consist of a number of positive and negative feedbacks. Bivalve grazing can result in local food depletion, which may negatively influence bivalve growth. On a larger scale, it may induce a top-down control of phytoplankton biomasss, and structural shifts in phytoplankton composition. In the case of harmful algal blooms, phytoplankton may negatively affect bivalve grazing rates. The processing of large amounts of particulate matter may change nutrient cycling on the scale of estuaries, and can result in changes in the inorganic nutrient pool available for phytoplankton, through regeneration and reduced storage of nutrients in algal biomass. This can reduce nutrient limitation of the phytoplankton and stimulate algal growth rates. Observations from mesocosm studies suggest that a positive feedback from bivalve grazing on phytoplankton growth may also change the physiological state of the algae and improve food quality. [KEYWORDS: suspension-feeding bivalves, phytoplankton, nutrient cycling, primary production, carrying capacity]
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)349-359
    JournalAquatic Ecology
    Publication statusPublished - 1998


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