A weight-of-evidence approach for defining thermal sensitivity in a federally endangered species

Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems
By: , and 



1. Managing for threatened and endangered species under changing environmental conditions is a challenge faced by resource managers worldwide. Lack of basic knowledge of the biology and habitat requirements of these species can contribute to this difficulty, but is confounded by the limitations of working with rare (i.e. few individuals) species or unrefined methods for evaluating stress.

2. A weight of evidence approach was used to evaluate the thermal biology of the federally endangered dwarf wedgemussel (Alasmidonta heterodon), utilizing cumulative results from multiple experimental assessments, co-occurring species, and their host fish to begin defining thermal limits and optimal conditions for the species.

3. Results suggest that dwarf wedgemussel and its host fish are thermally sensitive species compared to other Atlantic-slope mussels, with lower critical thermal maximum and selection of reduced temperatures during choice experiments.

4. Physiological studies resulted in lack of statistical significance primarily due to low power which was a function of sample size, one unavoidable problem when studying rare species. Given these limitations, thermal choice and CTM may be more useful endpoints than physiological processes such as clearance and respiration rates when dealing with sample size limitations.

5. These results suggest that management strategies that avoid exposing dwarf wedgemussel and its thermally sensitive host fish to extreme temperatures could be important for species conservation.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title A weight-of-evidence approach for defining thermal sensitivity in a federally endangered species
Series title Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems
DOI 10.1002/aqc.3287
Volume 30
Issue 3
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Leetown Science Center
Description 14 p.
First page 540
Last page 553
Country United States
State New Jersey, Pennsylvania
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