Reproductive cycle, collection and early growth of Aulacomya ater, Molina 1782 (Bivalvia: Mytilidae) in northern Chile


Correspondence: Miguel Avendaño, Laboratorio de Cultivo y Manejo de Moluscos, Dpto. de Acuicultura, Universidad de Antofagasta, Av. Universidad de Chile S/N, Casilla 170, Antofagasta, Chile. E-mail:


We evaluated the reproductive cycle of Aulacomya ater at Caleta Punta Arenas (Antofagasta, Chile), finding two important spawning periods (August–September and October–November) associated with declining water temperatures. Mytilid collectors were installed at Caleta Punta Arenas and Caleta Errázuriz (250 km further south) in November and then extracted in consecutive time periods. The results showed settlements of A. ater along with Choromytilus chorus (Molina) and Semimytilus algosus (Gould). An analysis of the spat size structure from each period revealed different micro-cohorts for each species; the micro-cohorts of C. chorus were predominant. Daily growth rates were estimated using the average sizes of the micro-cohorts on two consecutive dates. Although the daily growth rates did not vary significantly between sites for a given species, these rates were lowest for A. ater and highest for S. algosus. The abundance and greater growth of C. chorus caused interspecific competition with A. ater that was detrimental to the survival of the latter. We hypothesize the existence of a metapopulation of A. ater in northern Chile that would explain the settlement of four micro-cohorts on collectors after 28 days at Caleta Punta Arenas, and the settlement recorded after 80 days at Caleta Errázuriz.