Identifying the larva of the fan mussel, Atrina fragilis (Pennant, 1777) (Pinnidae)

David A Stirling* (Corresponding Author), Philip Boulcott, Mathias Bidault, Karim Gharbi, Beth E Scott, Peter J Wright

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
49 Downloads (Pure)


Measuring dispersal in rare sessile benthic species is important in the development of conservation measures such as MPA networks. However, efforts to understand dispersal dynamics for many species of conservation concern are hampered by a lack of fundamental life-history information. Here we present the first description of larvae of the fan mussel, Atrina fragilis, and examine key life-history traits that affect dispersal. Larval identification was accomplished using complementary molecular and morphologic techniques. Atrina-specific primers were designed by aligning Atrina COI sequences available in GenBank. As none of these were from UK specimens, primers were designed in the most conserved regions found across A. fragilis and its closest relative A. chautardi. A monthly time-series of zooplankton samples (2014–2015) suggests that A. fragilis follows the same pattern in spawning observed for other pinnids at temperate latitudes, with peak spawning in summer and winter. Average shell growth was estimated to be 6 μm d–1 based on presumed daily growth lines on larval shells. Measurements of the larval shell visible through the juvenile shell indicate a length of up to 770 μm at settlement. Using presumed daily growth lines, this translates into a pelagic larval duration of around 4 months.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-258
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Molluscan Studies
Issue number3
Early online date22 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018

Bibliographical note

This work was funded by the Scottish Government project SP004 and a MSS PhD studentship to DS. Many thanks are due to the Crews of the MV Alba na Mara (MSS), RV Sir John Murray (SEPA) and the MV Lochnevis (Caledonian Macbrayne) for facilitating sample collection, John Dunn for assistance with the manufacture and installation of the ferry sampler, Marian Thomson and other staff at the University of Edinburgh for laboratory assistance, Anastasia Imsiridou, Sofia Galinou-Mitsoudi and Vassilis Katsares of the Greek Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture Technology for supplying reference adult A. fragilis DNA, Pablo Diaz and staff at the University of Aberdeen microscopy department for assistance with SEM analysis, the National Museum of Wales for allowing reproduction of the juvenile A. fragilis image, Keith Hiscock and Eve Southward of Plymouth Marine Laboratory for historical information on the identification of A. fragilis larvae, Colin McAlister and the staff of the Fishery offices in Mallaig and Fraserburgh for assistance in the transport of zooplankton samples and materials, and the British Oceanographic Data Centre for supplying data on the UK Tidal Gauge Network. Comments from Associate Editor Simon Cragg and two anonymous reviewers were greatly appreciated for improving the manuscript


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