Year of Graduation


Level of Access

Open Access Thesis

Embargo Period


Department or Program


First Advisor

Dave Carlon


The blue mussel Mytilus edulis alters its phenotype in species-specific ways in response to either green crab (Carcinus maenus) or sea star (Asterias sp.) predation. Previous studies have shown that only sea stars induce changes in abductor muscle morphology, while green crabs generally alter the shape and thickness of shells. In the Western Gulf of Maine, Blue mussels collected from wave protected sites with abundant green crab predators were shown to have significantly thicker shells and larger adductor muscles than mussels collected from wave exposed sites with few green crab predators. The phenotypes of mussels originating from wave-protected and high green crab abundance sites increased the handling time by A. forbesi compared to sites with low wave exposure and high green crab abundance. These results contradict the paradigm that shell thickness trades off with abductor morphology, and I propose that a likely candidate for increased energy allocation to these traits is a decrease in reproductive allocation. My results further suggest that the escalating “arms race” between invasive green crabs and blue mussels in the Western Gulf of Maine is leading to changes in the phenotypic response of mussel populations in ways that are likely impacting sea star foraging dynamics.