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Spatial variability in growth-increment chronologies of long-lived freshwater mussels: Implications for climate impacts and reconstructions

Ecoscience

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Abstract

Estimates of historical variability in river ecosystems are often lacking, but long-lived freshwater mussels could provide unique opportunities to understand past conditions in these environments. We applied dendrochronology techniques to quantify historical variability in growth-increment widths in valves (shells) of western pearlshell freshwater mussels (Margaritifera falcata). A total of 3 growth-increment chronologies, spanning 19 to 26 y in length, were developed. Growth was highly synchronous among individuals within each site, and to a lesser extent, chronologies were synchronous among sites. All 3 chronologies negatively related to instrumental records of stream discharge, while correlations with measures of water temperature were consistently positive but weaker. A reconstruction of stream discharge was performed using linear regressions based on a mussel growth chronology and the regional Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI). Models based on mussel growth and PDSI yielded similar coefficients of prediction (R2Pred) of 0.73 and 0.77, respectively, for predicting out-ofsample observations. From an ecological perspective, we found that mussel chronologies provided a rich source of information for understanding climate impacts. Responses of mussels to changes in climate and stream ecosystems can be very site- and process-specific, underscoring the complex nature of biotic responses to climate change and the need to understand both regional and local processes in projecting climate impacts on freshwater species.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Spatial variability in growth-increment chronologies of long-lived freshwater mussels: Implications for climate impacts and reconstructions
Series title:
Ecoscience
Volume
17
Issue:
3
Year Published:
2010
Language:
English
Publisher:
University Laval
Publisher location:
Québec, Canada
Contributing office(s):
Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center
Description:
11 p.
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Ecoscience
First page:
240
Last page:
250