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Drought responses of freshwater mussels (Unionidae) in coastal plain tributaries of the Flint River basin, Georgia

Journal of Freshwater Ecology

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Abstract

During extreme drought conditions, mussel survival and habitat conditions were monitored weekly at nine locations representing a gradient in stream size in the lower Flint River basin, Georgia, USA. Cumulative unionid mortality ranged from 13 to 93% among sites, and was associated with low flow velocity (below 0.01 m/s) and dissolved oxygen concentrations below 5 mg/L. Species assemblages demonstrated differential mortality under declining dissolved oxygen conditions. Riffle and medium-large stream mussel assemblages had greater mortality than generalist assemblages under reduced dissoloved oxygen (DO < 5 mg/L). Mussel community composition at medium-sized sites shifted toward greater dominance of generalist species and lower proportions of riffle and medium-large stream species. At other sites, community structure changed little, likely due to the dominance of drought-resilient species in small streams and less detrimental changes in stream habitat conditions in large streams. Low flow conditions and severe drought adversely affected mussel distributions and assemblages, particularly in high diversity, medium-sized streams.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Drought responses of freshwater mussels (Unionidae) in coastal plain tributaries of the Flint River basin, Georgia
Series title:
Journal of Freshwater Ecology
Volume
19
Issue:
4
Year Published:
2004
Language:
English
Contributing office(s):
Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Description:
667-679
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Journal of Freshwater Ecology
First page:
667
Last page:
679
Number of Pages:
13