Growth in the bivalve Yoldia eightsi at Signy Island, Antarctica, determined from internal shell increments and calcium-45 incorporation
The growth rate of the infaunal nuculanid bivalve Yoldia eightsi at Factory Cove, Signy Island, South Orkney Islands (maritime Antarctica), was estimated from internal shell increments and 45Ca incorporation of individuals collected monthly from December 1987 to April 1989. Acetate peels of etched shells revealed clear first-order increments, with less well defined, narrower, second-and third-order increments. The first-order increments were assumed to be annual, although there is no independent confirmation of this assumption. Unfortunately abrasion of the umbo region and the small thin shells of Y. eightsi meant that in no case could a complete sequence of increments be measured realiably on any individual shell. Measurements of 1043 first-order increments from 130 shells where a minimum of two consecutive increments could be detected were therefore pooled, and a population growth curve constructed from a Ford-Walford plot. This indicated a slow growth rate, with a maximum shell height of 22.3 mm (equivalent to a shell length of 35.6 mm) being reached at an age >60 yr. The size-frequency distribution of 1521 individuals pooled from winter (July to October) samples revealed a distinct lack of smaller (younger) individuals, possibly reflecting poor recruitment in areas of dense adult populations. The largest shell recovered in the samples was 33.5 mm in length, with an estimated age of 52 yr. Short-term 45Ca-incorporation experiments indicated a mean daily rate of growth increment of 3.8 μm for individuals of 12 mm shell height, which matches the proposed annual growth rate if growth is assumed to occur for about 150 d each year and the first-order increments are assumed to be annual.