The calcitic and aragonitic shell of the fan mussel Pinna nobilis L. contains a record of the environmental changes experienced during its growth. Stable-isotope analyses of oxygen (18O:16O) in shell carbonate from the calcitic outer shell-layer have been used to validate the periodicity of clearly defined concentric rings on the aragonitic posterior adductor-muscle scar and to estimate the age and growth of fan mussels growing in Posidonia oceanica (L.) meadows at four locations on the south-east Spanish Mediterranean coast. The stable oxygen-isotope records obtained at intervals along a profile across the shell surface enabled seasonal changes in water temperature to be established, and hence seasonal patterns of shell growth to be inferred. Muscle-scar rings were found to be deposited annually in the shell in the spring and early summer (a period of increasing water temperatures), and represent an interruption in the migration of the posterior adductor muscle along the inner surface of the shell. In small pinnids (< 25 cm) accretion of the shell is rapid during the first year, but in the second year it is distinctly slower than at the same time the previous year. This slowing down in growth during the second year coincides with the appearance of the 'first' distinct muscle-scar ring, indicating that Pinna nobilis does not form a muscle-scar ring during its first year of shell growth. Maximum growth rates were recorded amongst pinnids from Carboneras, where they achieved a length of 59 cm in 8 yr, whilst those from Aguamarga were estimated to be the oldest (attaining a length of 45 cm in 13 yr).
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Acknowledgements We would like to thank L. Hooper for her help during the fieldwork program during 1995. The program was funded with assistance from the joint British Council–Spanish Ministry of Education Programme Acciones Integradas (Ref 50B), the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW), and Project CL195-1805 of the Spanish Interministerial Commission of Science and Technology (CICYT). We would like to thank the authorities of the Parque Natural de Cabo de Gata-Nijar for permission to work in the Park's waters.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Aquatic Science