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SFS Annual Meeting

Thursday, June 6, 2024
10:30 - 12:00

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S18 Freshwater Mussels: Connectivity and Conservation Concerns

10:30 - 10:45 | Salon 3/4 | USGS SCIENCE VISION FOR NATIVE FRESHWATER MUSSEL RESEARCH IN THE UNITED STATES

6/06/2024  |   10:30 - 10:45   |  Salon 3/4

USGS SCIENCE VISION FOR NATIVE FRESHWATER MUSSEL RESEARCH IN THE UNITED STATES Mussels are among the most imperiled fauna on the planet. Reasons for local and widespread declines in mussels are largely unknown, although threats can include habitat loss, disease, contaminants, altered flow regimes, invasive species, and climate change. Over the past decades, there has been substantial research on mussels, however, there are still substantial information gaps that limit conservation and management efforts. We developed a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) science vision for native freshwater mussel research to synthesize the existing science gaps that are relevant to the USGS mission and to identify opportunities where the USGS can address these gaps based on the agency’s capabilities and expertise. We identify focal research themes that are urgently needed to inform conservation and management decisions while making efficient use of available resources. We spoke with resource partners across local, regional, and national organizations and assessed the capabilities of the USGS and identified three focal research themes. Research on biodiversity seeks to enhance the diversity of mussel species and populations to support healthy aquatic ecosystems. Research on emerging stressors seeks to improve the understanding of how mussel species, populations, and communities respond to emerging stressors, including environmental contaminants and climate change. Research on conservation seeks to enhance the recovery of species and populations and to identify data gaps limiting the conservation of mussels and their habitats. The themes outlined in this strategic vision can only be accomplished through extensive collaborations between USGS and the full spectrum of natural resource partners.

David Hu (Primary Presenter/Author), US Geological Survey, dhu@usgs.gov;

Teresa Newton (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), U.S. Geological Survey, Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center, tnewton@usgs.gov;

Nathan Johnson (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), US Geological Survey, najohnson@usgs.gov;

10:45 - 11:00 | Salon 3/4 | CONNECTING DIMENSIONS OF BIODIVERSITY TO YIELD CONSERVATION INSIGHTS

6/06/2024  |   10:45 - 11:00   |  Salon 3/4

CONNECTING DIMENSIONS OF BIODIVERSITY TO YIELD CONSERVATION INSIGHTS Species richness and genetic diversity are two fundamental components of biodiversity that are both predicted to enhance ecosystem function. However, there is a lack of understanding on how biodiversity scales across levels of biological organization. Conservation initiatives vary in their scope with varying priorities including protection of a particular species, an assemblage or ecosystem function. Unionid freshwater mussels are one of the most imperiled faunal groups and in the US; over 90 species are listed under the Endangered Species Act making them a focus of significant conservation efforts. Here we examine how genetic, species, and functional diversity are interlinked in mussels and how protection at one level may lead to greater permanence at another. We leveraged an extensive quantitative dataset in the Mobile and Tennessee River basins, the biodiversity hotspot for mussels, to test for relationships among: 1) species abundance and richness; 2) genetic diversity and species abundance/richness; 3) species richness and functional diversity; 4) genetic diversity and functional diversity. Overall, we found positive abundance-richness relationships and both genetic and species richness contributed to greater functional richness. However, intraspecific abundance was the best predictor of genetic diversity. Our results have implications regarding conservation and management regarding whether it is species- or ecosystem-level focused. Despite the overall dire prognosis for freshwater biodiversity, there are opportunities for bridging research and conservation action. Linking species richness and genetic diversity with functional diversity and finding best mechanisms to maintain this diversity is critical as we face this grand challenge to preserve ecological function.

Carla L. Atkinson (Primary Presenter/Author), University of Alabama, carlalatkinson@gmail.com;

Jamie Bucholz (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Alabama, jbucholz@crimson.ua.edu;

Ryan Garrick (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Mississippi, rgarrick@olemiss.edu;

Garrett Hopper (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Louisiana State University, ghopper@agcenter.lsu.edu;

Colin R. Jackson (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Mississippi, cjackson@olemiss.edu;

Irene Sanchez Gonzalez (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Alabama, irene1sanchez@gmail.com;

Jeffery Lozier (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Alabama, jdlozier@ua.edu;

11:00 - 11:15 | Salon 3/4 | CONNECTING POTENTIAL HOST FISHES TO WILD YELLOW LAMPMUSSEL POPULATIONS

6/06/2024  |   11:00 - 11:15   |  Salon 3/4

Connecting potential host fishes to wild Yellow Lampmussel populations Host fishes are essential to understanding freshwater mussel distributions; they are the primary method of long-range dispersal for these sedentary animals. Only a few suitable host fish species have been identified for the vulnerable Yellow Lampmussel (Lampsilis cariosa), and only two host fish species have been confirmed through both laboratory trials and examination of glochidia on wild-caught fish. To increase understanding of host fishes for Yellow Lampmussel across its range, we 1) confirmed the ability of juvenile mussels to successfully metamorphose using Striped Bass (Morone saxatilis) in laboratory experiments and 2) quantified the use of different fish species as hosts using DNA amplicon sequencing. For the laboratory trials, we inoculated 205 Striped Bass and 76 Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides, a known host from previous lab trials) with glochidia from three female Yellow Lampmussel, and counted juveniles produced over four weeks. In total, 282 juveniles were produced using Striped Bass. This confirms that Yellow Lampmussel can use Striped Bass to successfully metamorphose, and suggests that Striped Bass may play a critical role in long-distance dispersal of these mussels within and across drainages. Next, we will examine the variation in use of known or potential hosts for Yellow Lampmussel across the species’ range by collecting glochidia from the gills and fins of wild fishes. The glochidia will be identified to species using DNA amplicon sequencing. These results will be used to evaluate which fish species are parasitized by Yellow Lampmussel in the wild and help identify species that are important ecological hosts.

Stefanie Farrington (Primary Presenter/Author), University of Massachusetts, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, sjfarrington@umass.edu;

David Perkins (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), USFWS, david_perkins@fws.gov;

Timothy Warren (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), USFWS, timothy_warren@fws.gov;

John Gibbons (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Massachusetts Amherst, jggibbons@umass.edu;

Allison Roy (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), U.S. Geological Survey, Massachusetts Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, University of Massachusetts Amherst, aroy@eco.umass.edu;

11:15 - 11:30 | Salon 3/4 | USING MUSEUM COLLECTIONS TO IMPROVE RANGE WIDE MODELING AND CONSERVATION PLANNING FOR AT-RISK MUSSEL SPECIES

6/06/2024  |   11:15 - 11:30   |  Salon 3/4

USING MUSEUM COLLECTIONS TO IMPROVE RANGE WIDE MODELING AND CONSERVATION PLANNING FOR AT-RISK MUSSEL SPECIES Freshwater mussel distribution data are siloed within individual agencies and limited to where resources have allowed for surveys. Because modern data are not comprehensive, we cannot conclude that species exist only where they have been recently found (last 30 years). Museum records offer opportunity to provide additional information on species distribution but there are challenges to using museum data for analyses, such as spurious coordinate information and misidentifications. Museum records have been centralized by open-source repositories with flags for coordinate precision (Global Biodiversity Information Facility) and out of range specimens (MusselMapR), providing information about record uncertainty. Verifying uncertain records using museum specimens could increase our confidence that distribution data are reliable and improve understanding of range dynamics through time. This study posed the question, what are the validity and contributions of flagged museum records? We created a decision tree based on a hierarchy of morphological characteristics to verify the taxonomic identity of flagged Lampsilis cariosa (Yellow Lampmussel) specimens from MusselMapR and summarized data to the Hydrologic Unit Code 8 watershed level. 66% of flagged specimens were confirmed as L. cariosa. Of the 34% invalid records, 83% were misidentifications, mainly of other Lampsilis species. Overall, museum collections expanded the range of L. cariosa, contributing 20 of 134 unique watersheds beyond the range of what recent records include. Our study provides a reproducible method for the reverification and stewardship of freshwater mussel museum records and highlights how records can provide unique contributions to our understanding of the range of rare, at-risk species.

Jillian Fedarick (Primary Presenter/Author), University of Maine, jillian.fedarick@maine.edu;

Christina A. Murphy (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), U.S. Geological Survey, Maine Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Orono, ME, christina.murphy@maine.edu;

Sydne Record (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Maine, sydne.record@maine.edu;

Allison Roy (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), U.S. Geological Survey, Massachusetts Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, University of Massachusetts Amherst, aroy@eco.umass.edu;

David Perkins (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), USFWS, david_perkins@fws.gov;

11:30 - 11:45 | Salon 3/4 | SIMILAR MICROBIAL COMMUNITIES IN CLOSELY-RELATED SISTER SPECIES WITH STRONG MORPHOLOGICAL AND GENOMIC DIVERGENCE

6/06/2024  |   11:30 - 11:45   |  Salon 3/4

Similar microbial communities in closely-related sister species with strong morphological and genomic divergence Species delimitation literature often does an excellent job teasing out genomic differences underpinning speciation, while the examination of potentially ecologically relevant trait divergence is often understudied, or even ignored. When species diverge in allopatry, they may conserve their niche, and therefore speciation may occur with little change in species traits. Incorporating trait data when examining species relationships can lead to a more holistic understanding of the processes underpinning speciation. Using three sets of closely related freshwater mussel species, Lampsilis ornata and Lampsilis ovata, Pustulosa kieneriana and Pustulosa pustulosa, Obovaria unicolor and Obovaria subrotunda, allopatrically separated since the late Miocene in the Mobile and Tennessee River Basins, we examine genetic, morphological, and gut microbial community differentiation. We find high levels of genetic differentiation at genome-wide markers, with FST ranging from 0.5 – 0.77 among species. Morphological landmarks generated from 3D scans of species’ shells showed minimal overlap among closely related species. In contrast, 16S rRNA gene sequences of the gut microbiomes revealed a much greater degree of overlap among closely related mussel species, and even amongst different species found in the same river basin. These results suggest that the gut microbiome of mussel species may be more phylogenetically conserved than other, ecologically relevant traits. Understanding which traits may diverge in tandem, and which remain conserved during the speciation process, is a step forward in understanding species evolution.

Jamie Bucholz (Primary Presenter/Author), The University of Alabama, jbucholz@crimson.ua.edu ;

Stephanie Vaughn (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Mississippi, snvaughn@go.olemiss.edu;

Irene Sanchez Gonzalez (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Alabama, irene1sanchez@gmail.com;

Garrett Hopper (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Louisiana State University, ghopper@agcenter.lsu.edu;

Colin R. Jackson (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Mississippi, cjackson@olemiss.edu;

Carla L. Atkinson (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), The University of Alabama, carla.l.atkinson@ua.edu;

Jeffrey Lozier (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Alabama, jlozier@ua.edu;

11:45 - 12:00 | Salon 3/4 | ELUCIDATING SUPRASPECIFIC DIVERSITY AND SPECIES BOUNDARIES IN THE PLEUROBEMINI WITH MOLECULAR PHYLOGENOMICS AND GEOMETRIC MORPHOMETRICS

6/06/2024  |   11:45 - 12:00   |  Salon 3/4

ELUCIDATING SUPRASPECIFIC DIVERSITY AND SPECIES BOUNDARIES IN THE PLEUROBEMINI WITH MOLECULAR PHYLOGENOMICS AND GEOMETRIC MORPHOMETRICS Taxonomy is the basis for understanding biodiversity, but the historical over-reliance on shell morphology in freshwater mussel species delimitation has resulted in incomplete diversity estimates and inaccurate phylogenetic hypotheses. The Pleurobemini is a group of Nearctic mussels that contains species with highly conserved morphologies and others that show extreme levels of morphological plasticity, which has perpetually puzzled malacologists. Recent multilocus phylogenetic studies have rejected many aspects of traditional classification and presumably uncovered multiple cryptic species, but a purely molecular approach is often insufficient to formally revise species boundaries. To clarify species boundaries, we collected samples of data deficient taxa across their geographic distributions to resolve taxonomic problems and maximize known morphological, ecological, and phylogenetic variation. We generated integrative datasets by sampling individuals from natural history museums and our own collecting efforts. We built genomic datasets using genome skimming, or low-coverage whole genome sequencing, comprised of complete mitochondrial genomes and ribosomal genes, and then worked to bioinformatically extract ultraconserved elements, exons, and other orthologous genes. Our phylogenomic and species delimitation analyses suggest the genera Fusconaia and Pleurobema contain at least three currently undescribed lineages. To corroborate our molecular results and maximize our morphological sampling, we used two different morphometric techniques: traditional measurements of shell dimensions (caliper measurements) and 2D geometric morphometrics (photographs) to analyze shell traits and found widespread overlap of morphologies. With this clarified taxonomy, our results will strengthen conservation efforts of several endangered species.

Alex Franzen (Primary Presenter/Author), University of Oklahoma, ajfranzen@ou.edu;

John Pfeiffer (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Smithsonian Institution , pfeifferj@si.edu;

Sean Keogh (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Field Museum, skeogh@fieldmuseum.org;

Makiri Sei (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Smithsonian Institution, seim@si.edu;

John Harris (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Arkansas State University, omibob1@gmail.com;

Bernard Sietman (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, bernard.sietman@state.mn.us;

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