Growth, production, and mortality of the chemosynthetic vesicomyid bivalve, Calyptogena kilmeri from cold seeps off central California


James P. Barry, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, Moss Landing, CA, USA.


The vesicomyid Calyptogena kilmeri is one of the most abundant bivalves inhabiting chemosynthetic environments shallower than c. 1500 m along central California. We estimated the population size structure, biomass, rates of individual growth, somatic production, and mortality for C. kilmeri, based on sampling of seep habitats and tag–recapture studies at chemosynthetic communities in Monterey Bay, California. The composite growth rate of C. kilmeri over all sites was relatively high (K = 0.25), reaching c. 80% of asymptotic length (104.7 mm) in 6.6 years. The density of C. kilmeri was estimated as 938.5 ind. m−2 and biomass density varied from 704 to 2059 g ash free dry mass (AFDM) m−2. Somatic production was also high (294–297 g·AFDM·m−2 year−1), and production/biomass ratios for C. kilmeri varied from 0.14 to 0.42 among sites, related to variation in size–frequency distributions among sites. Instantaneous mortality rates estimated from size distributions ranged from 0.17 to 0.24 year−1. Growth and somatic production by C. kilmeri are in the range reported for chemosynthetic bivalves from hydrothermal vent and seep habitats, as well as photosynthetic-based assemblages of inshore or intertidal bivalves, and greatly exceed rates reported for heterotrophic deep-sea benthos.