Freshwater mussels increase survival of largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) in drying pools

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Authors Traci P. DuBose, Kathryn Ashford, Caryn C. Vaughn
Journal/Conference Name Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution
Paper Category , ,
Paper Abstract Between global climate change and anthropogenic water needs, freshwater systems are becoming more intermittent, stressing organisms adapted to perennial waters. Drought-induced intermittency concentrates aquatic organisms into drying pools. These pools represent refugia from desiccation but apply other stressors, such as extreme temperatures and increased competition for dwindling resources. In the Southern United States, fishes and freshwater mussels are often concentrated together in drying pools during seasonal, summer droughts. This can result in increased competition for food among invertivorous fish, but also increased food abundance for these fish because mussels increase macroinvertebrate abundance. Further, since mussels require fish as hosts for their ectoparasitic larval phase, glochidia, competition with their host during this biologically active time is detrimental to mussels. We conducted an experiment to examine the effects of freshwater mussels on trophic resources and fish survival in drying pools. We stocked mesocosms with juvenile largemouth bass that were infected or uninfected with glochidia and tracked abiotic conditions, trophic resources and fish survival for 10 days. We found that fish survived longer in the presence of adult mussels, regardless of their infection status. We suspect that prey items supplemented by adult freshwater mussels increased the survival of fish. Thus, the presence of adult mussels and the resources that increase in their presence potentially mitigate stress to fish in “ecological crunch times.” By conserving mussels, fish populations might withstand droughts more easily.
Date of publication 2019
Code Programming Language R
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