DETERMINING THRESHOLD ELEMENTAL RATIOS (C:P) OF THE ALABAMA RAINBOW MUSSEL (VILLOSA NEBULOSA) USING GROWTH OBSERVATIONS
The C:N or C:P at which consumer growth limitation switches from one element to the other is the threshold elemental ratio (TER), and is the dietary elemental mixture at which organisms achieve optimal growth. Though bionenergetics models are available to determine TERs mathematically, growth observations have been shown experimentally to be a more accurate method. TERs have been studied extensively in cladocerans and modelled in many aquatic taxa, but freshwater mussels have been largely excluded from this area of research. Mussels (Family Unionidae) are an integral component of aquatic ecosystems and, because they are among the most globally imperiled taxa, it is imperative that we understand factors influencing their survival and persistence. The primary objective of this study is to use an observational growth experiment to determine the threshold C:P ratio for the Alabama Rainbow mussel, Villosa nebulosa. For six months we will feed one year old individuals a diet of algae cultured at four P levels across a gradient to determine the C:P ratio of algae that produces optimal growth in the mussels. The TERC:P will be the treatment with the highest growth rate during the experimental period.
Monica M. Winebarger (Primary Presenter/Author), University of Alabama, firstname.lastname@example.org;