Can giant clam (Tridacna squamosa) populations be restored on Singapore's heavily impacted coral reefs?

Authors

  • James R. Guest,

    1. Tropical Marine Science Institute, National University of Singapore, Singapore
    Current affiliation:
    1. Division of Biology, The Ridley Building, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE17RU, UK
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  • Peter A. Todd,

    Corresponding author
    1. Marine Biology Laboratory, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore, Singapore
    • Marine Biology Laboratory, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore, 14 Science Drive 4, Singapore, 117543
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  • Eugene Goh,

    1. Tropical Marine Science Institute, National University of Singapore, Singapore
    Current affiliation:
    1. DHI Water & Environment (S) Pte Ltd, 3 International Business Park, #06-19 Nordic European Centre, Singapore, 609927
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  • Balasubramaniam S. Sivalonganathan,

    1. Tropical Marine Science Institute, National University of Singapore, Singapore
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  • Konda P. Reddy

    1. Tropical Marine Science Institute, National University of Singapore, Singapore
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Abstract

  • 1.Giant clams have been a sustainable resource for millennia, but unregulated harvesting has led to local extinctions within the Indo-Pacific region. Giant clam mariculture can produce large numbers of juveniles for restocking wild populations where natural recruitment is low or absent.
  • 2.Singapore is surrounded by more than 60 small islands, many with fringing reefs. These reefs, however, experience increased turbidity and sedimentation resulting from massive coastal development projects and regular dredging of shipping lanes.
  • 3.Seven reefs off Singapore's southern islands were surveyed (9670 m2) for giant clams. Also, an experiment was conducted to determine the growth of Tridacna squamosa reared in aquaria under three light treatments: ∼50% ambient photosynthetically active radiation (PAR); ∼25% ambient PAR; and ∼12% ambient PAR. Finally, 144 clams (T. squamosa) were transplanted to four reefs around Singapore to study survival and growth in a heavily impacted environment.
  • 4.A total of 23 adult clams from three species were found during the survey, representing a mean density of 0.24 per 100 m2. Most clams were found at Raffles Lighthouse, Singapore's ‘best’ reef. No juvenile clams were encountered. In the aquarium experiment, clam growth was significantly different among the three light treatments, with growth greatest in the ∼50% ambient PAR treatment. Of the 144 transplanted clams, 116 (80.6%) were recovered after 7 months. All specimens had increased in size, with growth rates among reefs ranging from 3.3 mm month−1 (SD=1.3 mm) to 4.8 mm month−1 (SD=1.6 mm).
  • 5.Results suggest that, despite high levels of sedimentation and turbidity on Singapore's reefs, giant clams can survive and grow well. Restocking efforts using maricultured clams may be effective in enhancing the dwindling local populations. It is not clear, however, whether a self-sustaining community can be established as high sedimentation may hinder larval settlement and survival.

Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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