Biotic links in the fouling community of Odessa Bay (Black Sea)

  • A. Y. Varigin Institute of Marine Biology of NASU
Keywords: Black Sea mussel; edificator species; fouling community; consortia; ecosystem engineer


This paper reveals the character of the biotic links between the various organisms that compose the fouling community of Odessa Bay (Black Sea). The fouling community of solid substrates is formed by 62 species of invertebrates and 12 species of macrophytes. The edificator species of the community is the Black Sea mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis Lamarck, 1819. The environment-forming role of the mussel, which is represents the core of the corresponding consortia, was examined. The leading role of sessile organisms in the formation of a superorganismic structure that significantly modifies the properties of the environment was revealed. Together with the mussel, this structure is formed by the bivalve mollusc Mytilaster lineatus (Gmelin, 1791) and the barnacle crustacean Amphibalanus improvisus (Darwin, 1854). The proportion of sessile organisms accounts for 24.6% of the total number of species in the community. In this case, they significantly dominate in relative abundance and biomass (78.9% and 98.8%, respectively). The mussels during the process of growth form complexly organized druses, which are peculiar three-dimensional formations, consisting of mussels of different sizes, fastened together with a substrate by an entire network of strong byssus threads. These formations increase the level of heterogeneity of the substrate and increase the variety of available habitats for other animals. The aggregate of these druses is a kind of sedimentary trap in which particles of nutritive detritus accumulate. The availability of accessible habitats, convenient shelters and food reserves attracts various species of invertebrates to the community. Around the core of the consortia a cluster of organisms formed associated with edificator species. An important role is played by trophic links between different mobile organisms and the phyto-component of the community. The ability of the Black Sea mussel to condition the environment, creating favourable conditions for the development of other organisms, characterizes it as an autogenic ecosystem engineer. Trophic and mediopathic links between the organisms that compose the fouling community go beyond it and extend to the inhabitants of the pelagic environment.


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