Transport of Juvenile Gem Clams (Gemma gemma) in a Headland Wake Academic Article uri icon


  • Accumulation of bivalve recruits in the bottom convergence at the center of coastal eddies has been suggested as a possible mechanism resulting in locally abundant adult populations. We investigated transport of juvenile gem clams (Gemma gemma) in a headland wake to determine whether they accumulated, and where. Velocity measurements during three flood tides showed that a wake consistently formed, but that flow speeds were too slow to transport juvenile clams to the eddy center. Instead, the clams were deposited just inside the wake perimeter, where shear velocities decreased to levels below critical erosion velocities of the clams. This result demonstrated that accumulation in a coastal flow separation can occur even in the absence of a well-defined eddy or a strong bottom convergence. Juvenile gem clams were carried, probably as bedload, to regions in the wake dominated by sediments with similar grain sizes, rather than similar fall velocities, suggesting that bedload transport was particularly dependent on particle diameter in this flow regime. Adult gem clam populations tended to be locally abundant in regions receiving transported juveniles, but clam transport on any specific flood tide was not sufficient to fully predict the adult distributions.

publication date

  • September 1994