Factors affecting the reproductive success of freshwater mussels in lotic systems are poorly understood. Gravidity, fecundity, and fertilization success of Actinonaias ligamentina were examined at 4 sites along a 63-km reach of the Green River immediately below the Green River Dam, Kentucky. No gravid females were collected at the site closest to the dam, and the percentage of gravid females at downstream sites ranged from 20 to 36%. Not all females became gravid, despite the presence of early stages of ova in the gonadal fluid. This observation suggests that female A. ligamentina undergo a resting stage and, therefore, might not become gravid every year. Fecundity differed among sites and increased with distance from the dam. Fertilization rates ranged from 32 to 97% among sites and increased with distance from the dam. Fertilization rate was independent of local mussel density and position in the mussel bed. The high fertilization rates observed in the upstream portions of mussel beds indicate that freshwater mussel sperm have the ability to travel to distant females in lotic systems. Therefore, females are not necessarily dependent upon nearby males for fertilization. Successful fertilization of A. ligamentina at low mussel densities in the Green River suggests that natural recovery of rare endangered species might be possible if host fish and suitable conditions for juvenile survival and growth are present. ?? 2008 by The North American Benthological Society.
Additional Publication Details
Reproductive ecology of Actinonaias ligamentina (Bivalvia:Unionidae) in a regulated river
Journal of the North American Benthological Society