We conducted a series of in situ tests to evaluate the effects of pore-water ammonia on juvenile Lampsilis cardium in the St. Croix River (WI, USA). Threats to this river and its associated unionid fauna have accelerated in recent years because of its proximity to Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, USA. In 2000, caged juveniles were exposed to sediments and overlying water at 12 sites for 10 d. Survival and growth of juveniles was significantly different between sediment (mean, 47%) and water column (mean, 86%) exposures; however, these effects were unrelated to pore-water ammonia. During 2001, juveniles were exposed to sediments for 4, 10, and 28 d. Pore-water ammonia concentrations ranged from 0.3 to 62.0 μg NH3-N/L in sediments and from 0.5 to 140.8 μg NH3-N/L within exposure chambers. Survival (mean, 45, 28, and 41% at 4, 10, and 28 d, respectively) and growth (range, 3-45 μm/d) of juveniles were highly variable and generally unrelated to ammonia concentrations. Although laboratory studies have shown unionids to be quite sensitive to ammonia, further research is needed to identify the route(s) of ammonia exposure in unionids and to understand the factors that contribute to the spatial variability of ammonia in rivers.
Additional publication details
Effects of pore-water ammonia on in situ survival and growth of juvenile mussels (Lampsilis cardium) in the St. Croix Riverway, Wisconsin, USA