Abundance of host fish and frequency of glochidial parasitism in fish assessed in field and laboratory settings and frequency of juvenile mussels or glochidia recovered from hatchery-held fish, central and southeastern Texas, 2012-13

Scientific Investigations Report 2014-5217
Prepared in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
By: , and 

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Abstract

In 2012–13, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), completed the first phase of a two-phase study of mussel host-fish relations for five endemic mussel species in central and southeastern Texas that were State-listed as threatened on January 17, 2010: (1) Texas fatmucket (Lampsilis bracteata), (2) golden orb (Quadrula aurea), (3) smooth pimpleback (Quadrula houstonensis), (4) Texas pimpleback (Quadrula petrina), and (5) Texas fawnsfoot (Truncilla macrodon). On October 6, 2011, the USFWS announced the completion of a status review and determined that the five mussel species warranted listing under the Endangered Species Act; however, listing of these species at that time was precluded by higher priority listing actions, and currently (December 2014), they remained unlisted.

 

Freshwater mussels are long-lived, sedentary organisms that spend their larval stage as obligate parasites on the gills or fins of fishes, and many of these larvae, which are referred to as “glochidia,” can survive only on a narrow range of host-fish species. Results from both study phases are likely to provide information useful for propagation of rare mussels, reintroduction of host fish, population and reproduction monitoring, habitat restoration and enhancement, and adaptive management.

 

The abundance of host fish, frequency of parasitism in fish, and frequency of juvenile mussels or glochidia recovered from hatchery-held fish was assessed by collecting fish and mussels at 14 sites distributed among seven streams in central and southeastern Texas (juvenile mussels and glochidia were not differentiated in hatchery-held fish). All fish collected and assessed in this study were wild-caught. Qualitative surveys of the resident mussel communities were made, focusing on the five candidate species. A subsample (3 percent in 2012 and 19 percent in 2013) of the fish collected during aquatic biota surveys was submitted to the USFWS San Marcos National Fish Hatchery and Technology Center to collect juvenile mussels and glochidia recovered from the host fish, which were held for 28 days in holding tanks to allow time for most of the attached glochidia to release from the gills of the fish after transforming into juvenile mussels. All fish not sent to the hatchery were assessed for glochidia in the field or in the USGS Texas Water Science Center laboratory in Austin, Tex. Juvenile mussels and glochidia that were recovered from fish at the hatchery were submitted for use in the second phase of this study, the development of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) identification keys to determine mussel and host-fish relationships through DNA-based molecular identification (DNA typing of the juvenile mussels and glochidia). Reporting on the results of DNA-based molecular identification research is beyond the scope of this report.

 

In 2012, the majority of the fish that were collected, in terms of total number and species types, belonged to the sunfish family Centrarchidae (centrarchids; 1,277 individuals and at least 10 species). Redbreast sunfish (Lepomis auritus) was the most common species collected in 2012 (603 individuals), but the largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) species was caught at all 10 sites. The largest number of species (19) was collected at the San Saba Menard site (San Saba River near Menard, Tex.) on May 22, 2012.

 

In 2013, most of the fish that were collected, in terms of total number and species types, were centrarchids (763 individuals) and cyprinids (10 species), respectively. Blacktail shiner (Cyprinella venusta) was the most common species collected in 2013 (287 individuals), but bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) was the only species that was caught at all nine sites. The largest number of individuals (382) and species (19) was collected from the Colorado Columbus site (Colorado River near Columbus, Tex.) on June 11, 2013.

 

A minimum of two fish (any species) parasitized with glochidia was collected from each of the 10 sites sampled during 2012. The highest percentage of parasitized fish (19.1 percent) was measured at the Guadalupe Victoria site (Guadalupe River near Victoria, Tex.). The catfish family Ictaluridae (ictalurids) exhibited the highest proportion of parasitized fish (12.1 percent). Of the nine sites sampled in 2013, the Pedernales Fredericksburg site (Pedernales River near Fredericksburg, Tex.) had the highest proportion of parasitized fish at 22.7 percent. Ictalurids again exhibited the highest frequency of parasitism (26.5 percent).

 

Of the fish that were not sent to the hatchery but assessed for glochidia in the field or in the laboratory in 2012, at least 13 species were parasitized, and longear sunfish (Lepomis megalotis) was the species with the highest percentage of parasitized individuals (17.3 percent). Of the fish that were not sent to the hatchery but assessed for glochidia in the field or in the laboratory in 2013, only eight species were parasitized, and flathead catfish (Pylodictis olivaris) was the species with the highest percentage of parasitized individuals (42.9 percent).

 

With the exception of the San Antonio Charco site, fish were submitted to the hatchery from all sampling sites in 2013. During the first sampling period in 2013 (April 1–5), slightly more than half (16 out of 29) of the fish species (on a per site basis) that were submitted to the hatchery released juvenile mussels and glochidia. Compared to the other sampling periods in 2013, substantially fewer glochidia per fish were present on fish submitted to the hatchery during the second sampling period in 2013 (April 29–May 2). Although only two sites were sampled during the third sampling period in 2013 (June 10–11), more juvenile mussels and glochidia were recovered at the hatchery during this sampling period (107) than were recovered during the first two sampling periods in 2013 combined (102). An average of 17 juvenile mussels or glochidia was recovered per largemouth bass submitted to the hatchery from the Guadalupe Victoria site during the third sampling period.

 

A total of 19 fish species collected at nine sites was submitted to the hatchery in 2013, and 14 of these species had juvenile mussels or glochidia that were recovered at the hatchery. The three most productive species, in terms of the average number of juvenile mussels or glochidia recovered, were longear sunfish, spotted bass, and largemouth bass, each of which averaged more than two juvenile mussels or glochidia recovered per individual.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Abundance of host fish and frequency of glochidial parasitism in fish assessed in field and laboratory settings and frequency of juvenile mussels or glochidia recovered from hatchery-held fish, central and southeastern Texas, 2012-13
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2014-5217
DOI 10.3133/sir20145217
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Texas Water Science Center
Description v, 53 p.
Time Range Start 2012-01-01
Time Range End 2013-12-31
Country United States
State Texas
Datum North American Datum of 1983
Projection Albers Equal Area projection
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N