Sensitivity of early life stages of freshwater mussels (Bivalvia: Unionidae) to copper
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Little effect on glochidia was detected following 30- day artificial stream exposures of gravid adults to 19.1 ug Cu/L and an effluent containing an average of 23.9 ug Cu/L. Isolated glochidia were killed by copper concentrations ranging from 20-80 ug/L in 24-hour exposures, with sensitivity increasing with hardness and temperature. Encysted glochidia were resistant to exposures up to 400 ug Cu/L. No significant effect on metamorphosis to the stage was detected. This is likely due to the encapsulation of the glochidium by the host fish. Juvenile mussels reduced their activity during 24-hour exposures to copper concentrations as low as 17 to 24 ug/L and concentrations of 30 to 42 ug/L caused mortality.
Juvenile mussels and glochidia within the marsupia are probably the two most sensitive stages in the life cycle of the freshwater mussel. Copper pollution will have its greatest impact in the summer, during periods of high water temperature and low flow.
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