At the recently concluded, “Climate Change Adaptation: Aquatic Invasives and Coastal Restoration Symposium, 26-27 February 2014, Singapore”, I gave a presentation on the following:
The Ecological Benefits of Restocking Giant Clams
Mei Lin Neo, William Eckman, Kareen Vicentuan-Cabaitan, C.F. Ambert Ang, Serena L-M. Teo and Peter A. Todd
Experimental Marine Ecology Laboratory, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore
Tropical Marine Science Institute, National University of Singapore
Abstract: Giant clams (Tridacninae) are the largest living bivalves on Indo-Pacific coral reefs. To curb population declines, there has been a concerted effort to restock giant clams within their range, including Singapore. This is not only good thing for giant clam conservation, but also for coral reefs as giant clams play numerous important ecological roles. These roles, however, have never been fully quantified. Using data from the literature and our own studies, we show how giant clams function as food, as shelter and as reef builders. Giant clam tissues are attractive food for predators and scavengers, while their discharges of live zooxanthellae, faeces and gametes are eaten by opportunistic feeders. Clam shells provide substrate for epibiont colonisation, while commensal and parasitic organisms live within their mantle cavities. Giant clams can increase the topographic relief of reefs, act as reservoirs of zooxanthellae, and also filter substantial volumes of water (which can potentially counteract eutrophication). Lastly, populations of giant clams produce large quantities of calcium carbonate shell material that is eventually incorporated into the reef framework. The ultimate goal of the giant clam restocking programme in Singapore is to create self-sustaining populations that will eventually contribute to the rehabilitation of local coral reefs.
Many thanks to the organisers for the opportunity to share my research and for such a successful symposium!
Photo credits to Lam Kar Mun and Lee Bee Yan.