Population Biology of the Tan Riffleshell (Epioblasma florentina walkeri) and the Effects of Substratum and Light on Juvenile Propagation
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The tan riffleshell population in Indian Creek was estimated to be 1078 adults (95% CI= 760 - 1853), using Schumacher's modification of Schnabel's maximum likelihood estimator. The sex ratio and size distribution of males and females were approximately equal. Specimen ages, determined from thin-sections of shells, showed that mussels aged by external annuli on shells likely underestimates the true ages of individuals.
Appropriate culture conditions for this species were examined using juveniles of the wavyrayed lampmussel (Lampsilis fasciola) as a surrogate. In the first experiment, juvenile growth and survival was compared between four substratum types (fine sediment, < 120Î¼m; fine sand, 500 Î¼m-800 Î¼m; coarse sand, 1000 Î¼m-1400 Î¼m; and mixed sediment, < 1400 Î¼m) and two light treatments in open versus covered recirculating troughs (2.8 m). Juveniles in fine sediment substratum and covered troughs fared poorest, with 7% survival and growth to only 0.86 mm in length after 16 wk. Juveniles in mixed sediment and open troughs fared best, with 26% survival and growth to 1.09 mm after 16 wk. Additionally, juveniles in fine sand in covered troughs had significantly higher survival (23.1%) than juveniles in fine sediment (p = 0.04), and juveniles in fine sand survived consistently better between light treatments than in the other substrata. There were no significant differences among the other treatments.
A second experiment was performed to determine whether juveniles were responding directly to the presence of light or whether only the increased autochthonous production improved growth and survival. One-half of each of three 2.8 m troughs were covered with 50% shade cloth, while the other sides were left open to ambient light. Additionally, the best and worst sediments from the first experiment (fine sand and fine sediment) were used again to verify the results from the previous experiment. In this case, juveniles in both sides of the troughs grew equally well, but juveniles in the open sides had significantly poorer survival (open mean: 1.78%, sd = 5.01; covered mean: 7.4%, sd = 5.01) (p = 0.046). Fine sediment yielded significantly higher growth of juveniles than fine sand (p = 0.009), with shell lengths of 2.63 mm (sd = 0.075) in fine sediment and 1.94 mm (sd = 0.102) in fine sand. The differences in survival and growth between the two experiments were attributed to differential numbers of chironomids and platyhelminths, which are predators of young juveniles. Additionally, the fine sediment was more tightly packed in the first experiment than in the second, which may have restricted movement and subsequently reduced survival. Light alone likely did not affect juvenile survival and growth; rather, it was seemingly the greater abundance of aufwuchs available as food. This hypothesis was corroborated by a juvenile behavior experiment, which showed that juveniles did not act differently when in tanks not exposed to light versus those open to ambient light.
- Masters Theses