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Estimating Mussel Reproduction Using Historical Fish Collections in the Upper Mobile Basin Watershed

Turnage, G., Roberts, M. E., Ervin, G. N., Altig, R., Brooks, C., McAnally, W. H., & Diaz-Ramirez, J. (2009). Estimating Mussel Reproduction Using Historical Fish Collections in the Upper Mobile Basin Watershed. 2009 Northern Gulf Institute annual conference. Mobile, AL.

Abstract

Freshwater mussels can filter between 15 and 45 L of water a day (Strayer 2008). In some North American rivers this accounts for almost 90 % of the total water volume. As a result, the conservation of mussel communities is critical to the maintenance of water quality and the overall health of freshwater ecosystems. North American freshwater mussels (Family: Unionidea) share a unique life history trait - each species possesses a parasitic larval life stage, called a glochidium which is required to complete reproduction. Glochidia attach to the gills of host fishes before dropping to the substrate where they develop into adults. Human activities such as impoundment have been associated with declining mussel populations, possibly by disrupting at least one component of the mussel-fish interaction. To test this hypothesis and evaluate water quality as a function of this species interaction we are studying mussel-fish associations of the Tombigbee and Buttahatchie Rivers in Northeastern Mississippi. We are working to assess mussel reproduction before and after impoundment in these systems with the help of museum collections.


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