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BiologyM. balthica has separate sexes. The main breeding period lies between February and May, with a second spawning in autumn. The free-swimming veliger larva has a pelagic life of up to seven or eight weeks. When growth is fast, longevity is about three years, but in slow growing populations specimens live for six or seven years (Fish & Fish, 1989; Zwarts et al., 1992).
The bivalve lives buried below the surface, maintaining contact with the overlying water by means of the inhalant and exhalant siphons (Brafield & Newell, 1961; Fish & Fish, 1989). M. balthica is capable of deposit as well as suspension feeding (Brafield & Newell, 1961; Wolff, 1973; Fish & Fish, 1989). M. balthica is able to withstand low winter temperatures. In the Dutch Wadden Sea its abundance increases after cold winters (Beukema, 1979; Beukema & Essink, 1986).
The species is an important prey item for birds such as the knot (Zwarts & Blomert, 1992; Zwarts et al., 1992).