R-20-03 Examining Spatial and Temporal Variability in Soft-Shell Clam Recruitment: Establishing a Coastwide Monitoring Program

Brian Beal
Downeast Institute

Sara Randall
Downeast Institute

Maine is one of the top producers of soft shell clams (Mya arenaria) in the United States. However, with rising ocean temperatures, state-wide clam landings have decreased 75% since the 1980s. Juvenile soft shell clams are particularly vulnerable to warming waters and predation by invasive species, such as European green crabs (Carcinus maenas). Past research conducted by the Downeast Institute indicates that position in the tidal zone and predation are two key components influencing soft shell clam recruitment.

Modeled on the American Lobster Settlement Index, the goal of this project is to develop a standardized clam monitoring program to predict future trends of recruitment and survival. Using recruitment boxes, investigators will learn more about the early life stages of clams The study will take place in nine Maine communities across three coastal regions –Downeast, Midcoast, Southwest — over the course of two summers. Researchers will examine changes over time and between locations and measure water temperature and site-specific predation levels. Community members, including clammers, school children, teachers, and parents will help collect and analyze results. This study has the potential to inform state and municipal management practices and raise community-level interest in soft-shell clams.

Two-year project, 2020-2022
Sea Grant funds: $87,717