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LATITUDINAL VARIATION IN AMBLEMA PLICATA SIZE AND GROWTH CHARACTERISTICS IN NORTH AMERICA

Freshwater mussels are imperiled invertebrates native to North American streams that play an important role in ecosystem function. Size and growth are important characteristics for managing these organisms, plus these characteristics are related to their functional role in the stream. Mussel shell growth is the result of the organism’s metabolism, which directs its role in nutrient cycling. Amblema plicata is a widely-distributed habitat generalist that exhibits considerable variation in its growth characteristics. We are evaluating the variability of A. plicata size and growth rate across a latitudinal gradient spanning Texas to Minnesota. By thin-sectioning recently dead shells, we can use growth annuli to measure growth rates and compare these characteristics to abiotic variables related to mussel growth. We are evaluating how water temperature, river velocity, and land-use influence these growth characteristics. This study informs conservation efforts by describing the variability of growth characteristics between rivers in North America and evaluating possible mechanisms of this variability. It also has implications for the role these organisms play as nutrient capacitors within the larger ecosystem.

Traci Popejoy (Primary Presenter/Author), University of Oklahoma, tracipopejoy@ou.edu;


Caryn C. Vaughn ( Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Oklahoma, cvaughn@ou.edu;