Measures of physiological condition are being used as sub-lethal endpoints in studies with unionids exposed to a variety of stressors, yet the natural seasonal variation in these measures are largely undocumented. We measured concentrations of glycogen in foot and mantle tissue and a tissue condition index (TCI) in Amblema plicata (Say 1817), about monthly, for 2 years in mussels that were: (1) obtained directly from the Upper Mississippi River (riverine group); and (2) relocated from the river into an artificial pond (relocated group). In both groups, we observed significant seasonal variation in all physiological indicators. Seasonal variation in glycogen was 72% in mantle and 52% in foot tissue and paralleled reproductive activity in this short-term breeder. In the relocated group, most of the variation in glycogen occurred during the first six months after relocation, suggesting that handling stress may have been a contributing factor. The significant seasonal variation in the TCI paralleled glycogen in riverine mussels. We observed tissue-specific differences in glycogen in the riverine group, but not in the relocated group. These data suggest that an interaction of environmental and biological factors influence the energetic status of mussels in natural populations. A better understanding of this variation is needed to interpret changes in physiological condition due to stressors such as relocation.
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Seasonal variation in physiological condition of Amblema plicata in the Upper Mississippi River