Scientia Marina, Vol 78, No 4 (2014)

Habitat use by a large population of Pinna nobilis in shallow waters

Patricia Prado
IRTA Aquatic Ecosystems , Spain

Nuno Caiola
IRTA Aquatic Ecosystems , Spain

Carles Ibáñez
IRTA Aquatic Ecosystems , Spain


We investigated the habitat use and size structure of the fan mussel, Pinna nobilis L. in the Alfacs Bay (Ebro Delta, Spain, NW Mediterranean). Shore-parallel transects were conducted to assess the abundance, size, and orientation of individuals and to record habitat features along the Banya Sandspit, at depths of 20 to 130 cm. Results showed two distinctive areas in terms of population density, marked by the end of local salt pan dikes that we named Good Habitat (GH) and Bad Habitat (BH). To extrapolate these results to the full area of BH and GH, perpendicular transects were conducted to determine the local bathymetry. Then, the underestimation of individuals due to the effects of distance, depth and seagrass cover (Distance 6 computer package) was added to raw abundances to obtain a corrected population of 90303 individuals (12085 in the BH and 782018 in the GH), the largest so far reported at such low depths. Most recorded individuals were adults (40 to 60 cm shell length), with no occurrence of sizes < 20 cm, and with a strong association with Cymodocea nodosa seagrass beds. Given the shallow distribution of the population, the absence of small sizes during the study period, and the presence of human activities that may damage P. nobilis and its habitat, the development of a management plan appears imperative for the conservation of the species.


fan mussel; endangered species;· Cymodocea nodosa;· habitat use;· water depth;· human activities

Full Text:



Addis P., Secci M., Brundu G., et al. 2009. Density, size structure, shell orientation and epibiontic colonization of the fan mussel Pinna nobilis L. 1758 (Mollusca: Bivalvia) in three contrasting habitats in an estuarine area of Sardinia (W Mediterranean). Sci. Mar. 73: 143-152.

Akaike H. 1985. Prediction and entropy. In: Atkinson A.C., Fienberg S.E. (eds), A celebration of statistics. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, pp. 1-24.

Barberà-Cebriàn C., Ca-izares-Fernández S., Rull del Águila L. 1996. Estudio de la población del molusco eulamelibranquio Pinna nobilis L. 1758, en el litoral alicantino. Univ. Alicante.

Buckland S.T., Anderson D.R., Burnham K.P., et al. 2001. Introduction to distance sampling: Estimating abundance of biological populations. Oxford University Press, London, 441pp. PMCid:PMC1731766

Burnham K.P., Anderson D.R. 2002. Model selection and multimodel inference: a practical information-theoretic approach, 2nd edn. Springer, New York.

Butler A., Vicente N., De Gaulejac B. 1993. Ecology of de Pterioid bivalves Pinna bicolor Gmelin and P. nobilis L. Mar. Life 3: 37-45.

Centoducati G., Tarsitano E., Bottalico A., et al. 2007. Monitoring of the endangered Pinna nobilis Linné, 1758 in the Mar Grande of Taranto (Ionian Sea, Italy). Environ. Monit. Assess. 131: 339-347. PMid:17171265

Coppa S., de Lucia G.A., Magni P., et al. 2013. The effect of hydrodynamics on shell orientation and population density of Pinna nobilis in the Gulf of Oristano (Sardinia, Italy). J. Sea. Res. 76: 201-210.

Davenport J., Ezgeta-Bali? D., Peharda M., et al. 2011. Size-differential feeding in Pinna nobilis L. (Mollusca: Bivalvia): exploitation of detritus, phytoplankton and zooplankton. Est. Coast. Shelf Sci. 92: 246-254.

Delgado M. 1987. Fitoplancton de las bahias del Delta del Ebro. Inv. Pesq. 51: 517-548.

Galinou-Mitsoudi S., Vlahavas G., Papoutsi O. 2006. Population study of the protected bivalve Pinna nobilis (Linnaeus, 1758) in Thermaikos Gulf (North Aegean Sea). J. Biol. Res. 5: 47-53.

Garcés E., Delgado M., Masó M., et al. 1999. In situ growth rate and distribution of the ichthyotoxic dinoflagellate Gyrodinium corsicum Paulmier in an estuarine embayment (Alfacs Bay, NW Mediterranean Sea). J. Plank. Res. 21: 1977-1991.

García-March J.R. 2005. Aportaciones al conocimiento de la biología de Pinna nobilis Linneo, 1758 (Mollusca, Bivalvia) en el litoral Mediterráneo Ibérico. PhD tesis, Univ. Valencia, 332 pp.

García-March J.R., Kersting D.K. 2006. Preliminary data on the distribution and density of Pinna nobilis and Pinna rudis in the Columbretes Islands Marine Reserve (Western Mediterranean, Spain). International Congress on Bivalvia, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Bellaterra, Catalunya, Spain July 22-27.

García-March, J.R., García-Carrascosa A.M., Pe-a Cantero A.L., et al. 2007a. Population structure, mortality and growth of Pinna nobilis Linnaeus, 1758 (Mollusca, Bivalvia) at different depths in Moraira bay (Alicante, Western Mediterranean). Mar. Biol. 150: 861-871.

García-March J.R., Pérez-Rojas L., García-Carrascosa A.M. 2007b. Influence of hydrodynamic forces on population structure of Pinna nobilis L., 1758 (Mollusca: Bivalvia): The critical combination of drag force, water depth, shell size and orientation. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 342: 202-212.

Guallart J., Templado J. 2010. La población de Pinna nobilis (Mollusca, Pinnidae) en las Islas Chafarinas (Mar de Alborán, SW Mediterráneo). XVI Simposio Ibérico de Estudios de Biología Marina. Alicante (Spain), 6-10 September 2010, 149 pp.

Guallart J., Templado J. 2012. Pinna nobilis. In: VV.AA., Bases ecológicas preliminares para la conservación de las especies de interés comunitario en Espa-a: Invertebrados. Ministerio de Agricultura, Alimentación y Medio Ambiente. Madrid, 81 pp. PMid:23107786

Hurvich C.M., Tsai C.L. 1989. Regression and time series model selection in small samples. Biometrika 76: 297-307.

Ibá-ez C. 1997. Pla XXI. Directrius per a la conservació i dessenvolupament sostenible al delta de l'Ebre. (Plan XXI: Guideliness for conservation and sustainible development in the Ebro Delta). Sociedad Espa-ola de Ornitología/ Birdlife. Tarragona, Spain.

Katsanevakis S. 2006. Population ecology of the endangered fan mussel Pinna nobilis in a marine lake. Mar. Biol. Prog. Ser. 1: 51-59.

Katsanevakis S. 2007. Growth and mortality rates of the fan mussel Pinna nobilis in Lake Vouliagmeni (Korinthiakos Gulf, Greece): a generalized additive modelling approach. Mar. Biol. 152: 1319-1331.

Katsanevakis S., Thessalou-Legaki M. 2009. Spatial distribution, abundance and habitat use of the protected fan mussel Pinna nobilis in Souda Bay, Crete. Mar. Biol. Prog. Ser 8: 45-54.

Laake J.F., Buckland S.T., Anderson D.R., et al. 1994. Distance sampling: abundance estimation of biological populations. Distance user's guide. Colorado Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO.

Marbà N., Duarte C.M. 1995. Coupling of seagrass (Cymodocea nodosa) patch dynamics to subaqueous dune migration. J. Ecol. 83: 381-389.

Palacin C., Martin D., Gili J.M. 1991. Features of spatial distribution of benthic infauna in a Mediterranean shallow-water bay. Mar. Bio. 110: 315-321.

Peterson C.H. 1982. The importance of predation and Intra- and interspecific competition in the population biology of two infaunal suspension-feeding bivalves, Protothaca staminea and Chione undatella. Ecol. Monogr. 52: 437-475.

Rabaoui L., Sabiha T.Z., Katsanevakis S., et al. 2007. Comparison of absolute and relative growth patterns among five Pinna nobilis populations along the Tunisian coastline: an information theory approach. Mar. Biol. 152: 537-548.

Rabaoui L., Tlig-Zouari S., Ben Hassine O.K. 2008. Distribution and habitat of the fan mussel Pinna nobilis Linnaeus, 1758 (Mollusca: Bivalvia) along the northern and eastern Tunisian coasts. Cah. Biol. Mar. 49: 67-78.

Rabaoui L., Tlig-Zouari S., Katsanevakis S., et al. 2010. Modelling population density of Pinna nobilis (Bivalvia) on the Eastern and Southeastern coast of Tunisia. J. Mollus. Stud. 76: 340-347.

Richardson C.A., Kennedy H., Duarte C.M., et al. 1999. Age and growth of the fan mussel Pinna nobilis from south-east Spanish Mediterranean seagrass (Posidonia oceanica) meadows. Mar. Biol. 133: 205-212.

Richardson C.A., Peharda M., Kennedy H., et al. 2004. Age, growth rate and season of recruitment of Pinna nobilis (L) in the Croatian Adriatic determined from Mg:Ca and Sr:Ca shell profiles. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 299: 1-16.

Schlieper C., Fl?gel H., Rudolf J. 1960. Temperature and salinity relationships in marine bottom invertebrates. Experientia 16: 470-472.

Siletic T., Peharda M. 2003. Population study of the fan shell Pinna nobilis in Malo and Veliko Jezero of the Mljet National Park (Adriatic Sea). Sci. Mar. 67: 91-98.

Solé J., Turiel A., Estrada M., et al. 2009. Climatic forcing on hydrography of a Mediterranean bay (Alfacs Bay). Cont. Shelf. Res. 29: 1786-1800.

Strayer D.L., Malcom H.M. 2006. Long-term demography of a zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) population. Freshw. Biol. 51: 117-130.

Vidondo B., Duarte C.M., Middelboe A.L., et al. 1997. Dynamics of a landscape mosaic: size and age distributions, growth and demography of seagrass Cymodocea nodosa patches. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 158:131-138.

Zakhama-Sraieb R., Sghaier Y.R., Omrane A., et al. 2011. Density and population structure of Pinna nobilis (Mollusca, Bivalvia) in the Ghar El Melh lagoon (N-E Tunisia). Bull. Inst. Natn. Scien. Tech. Mer de Salammbô 38: 65-71.

Zavodnik D., Hrs-Brenko M., Legac M. 1991. Synopsis on the fan shell Pinna nobilis L. in the eastern Adriatic Sea. In: Boudouresque C.F., Avon M., Gravez V. (eds), Les Espèces Marines à Protéger en Méditerranée. GIS Posidonie, Marseille, pp. 169-178.

Copyright (c) 2014 Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Contact us

Technical support