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Understanding the distribution of a nemertean predator, Cerebratulus lacteus, in clam flats: implications for control measures



Clams have been identified as an important alternate species for the future development of aquaculture in Atlantic Canada. One of the major obstacles in the development of clam culture has been controlling predators on culture sites, particularly endobenthic species (those that live in the sediment). In recent years, commercial size quahaug and soft shell clam densities have been reportedly lower. While the cause for these declines has not yet been documented, harvesters have noted the important presence of predatory worms at clam harvesting sites. The milky ribbon worm, Cerebratulus lacteus, is an important predator of many endobenthic bivalve species and its presence has been correlated to high field mortality in soft-shell clams. Very little, however, is known about the factors regulating the patchy distribution of this predator. The present study will examine the factors regulating the patchy distribution and abundance of C. lacteus to allow for the development of predator management strategies.

The results of this project will provide information to better understand the factors involved in the patchy distribution and abundance of C. lacteus. This information will aid in the development of efficient management strategies to minimize the effect of this predator on clam populations.

This project supports the optimal fish health objective of the Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP), and pertains to the 2014-15 national ACRDP priority to explore the management of pests by developing means of understanding and controlling the impacts of pests on cultured stocks and ecological impacts.

Program Name

Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP)


2014 - 2017


Atlantic: Gulf of Maine, Scotian Shelf

Principal Investigator(s)

Daniel Bourque

Collaborative Partner(s)

Innovative Fisheries Products Inc.

Mills Seafood Ltd.

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