Riverine freshwater mussel species can be found in highly diverse communities where many similar species coexist. Mussel species potentially compete for food and space as adults, and for fish host resources during the larval (glochidial) stage. Resource partitioning at the larval stage may promote coexistence. A model of resource utilization was developed for two mussel species and analyzed to determine conditions for coexistence. Mussel species were predicted to coexist when they differed in terms of their success in contacting different fish host species; very similar strategies offered limited possibilities for coexistence. Differences in the mussel species' maximum infestation loads on the fish hosts that coincided with differences in their fish host contact success promoted coexistence. Mussel species with a given set of trade-offs in fish host use were predicted to coexist only for a subset of relative fish host abundances, so a shift in relative fish host abundances could result in the loss of a mussel species. An understanding of the conditions for freshwater mussel species coexistence can help explain high mussel diversity in rivers and guide ongoing conservation activities. ?? 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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Conditions for coexistence of freshwater mussel species via partitioning of fish host resources