We investigated density-dependent mortality within the early months of life of the bivalves Macoma balthica (Baltic tellin) and Cerastoderma edule (common cockle) in the Wadden Sea. Mortality is thought to be density-dependent in juvenile bivalves, because there is no proportional relationship between the size of the reproductive adult stocks and the numbers of recruits for both species. It is not known however, when exactly density dependence in the pre-recruitment phase occurs and how prevalent it is. The magnitude of recruitment determines year class strength in bivalves. Thus, understanding prerecruit mortality will improve the understanding of population dynamics. We analyzed count data from three years of temporal sampling during the first months after bivalve settlement at ten transects in the Sylt-Rømø- Bay in the northern German Wadden Sea. Analyses of density dependence are sensitive to bias through measurement error. Measurement error was estimated by bootstrapping, and residual deviances were adjusted by adding process error. With simulations the effect of these two types of error on the estimate of the density-dependent mortality coefficient was investigated. In three out of eight time intervals density dependence was detected for M. balthica, and in zero out of six time intervals for C. edule. Biological or environmental stochastic processes dominated over density dependence at the investigated scale. © 2014 Andresen et al.