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Respiration, nutrient excretion and filtration rate of tropical freshwater mussels and their contribution to production and energy flow in Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe

Abstract

The productivity and ecological role of benthos in man-made Lake Kariba was assessed through the use of P/B-ratios and by measuring the metabolism (respiration, N and P excretion) of the most abundant mussel species (Aspatharia wahlbergi, Corbicula africana and Caelatura mossambicensis) in laboratory experiments. For A. wahlbergi also filtration rate was estimated.

The annual production of benthos for the populated 0–12 m interval was estimated at 11.0 g m −2 yr−1 (shellfree dry weight) of which mussels contributed for 8.81 g (80%), snails 2.16 g (20%) and insects 0.03 g (0.3%) respectively. The most important mussel species in the lake were Caelatura mossambicensis (4.97 g m−2 yr−1) and Corbicula africana (3.33 g). The dominant snail species was Melanoides tuberculata (1.63 g). For the total lake, also including deeper unpopulated bottoms, the annual production of benthos was 2.70 g m−2 yr−1 (shell-free dry weight).

Respiration and excretion varied with temperature displaying a bell-shaped relationship. Metabolic rates in Aspatharia wahlbergi increased about 5× between 16.5 °C and the maximum at 34.0 °C and then decreased again at 39.0 °C, when the mussels showed signs of severe stress. Metabolism in Corbicula africana had a lower optimum with fairly constant activity between 18.6 and 29.2 °C, rapidly decreasing above this temperature.

The average respiration, nutrient excretion and water filtration rates for mussels in Lake Kariba at 25.2 °C were estimated to about 0.6 mg O2 85 µg NH4−N, 1.5 µg PO4−P and 0.51 water filtered h−1 g−1 shellfree dry weight. This gives that a volume corresponding to about the total epilimnion of the lake is filtered by the mussels annually. Further, mussels can be estimated to remineralise % MathType!MTEF!2!1!+-% feaafiart1ev1aaatCvAUfeBSjuyZL2yd9gzLbvyNv2CaerbuLwBLn% hiov2DGi1BTfMBaeXatLxBI9gBaerbd9wDYLwzYbItLDharqqtubsr% 4rNCHbGeaGak0Jf9crFfpeea0xh9v8qiW7rqqrFfpeea0xe9Lq-Jc9% vqaqpepm0xbba9pwe9Q8fs0-yqaqpepae9pg0FirpepeKkFr0xfr-x% fr-xb9adbaqaaeGaciGaaiaabeqaamaabaabaaGcbaGaaGymaiaac+% cacaaI0aaaaa!3A2B!\[1/4\] of the total load of phosphate, and 8 times the total load of nitrogen every year. The population needs 3.5 × 104 tons of organic carbon for its maintainance, which indicates that about 5% of the annual phytoplankton production is channeled through mussels. We conclude that the mussels, rather than being an important food source for fish, seem to play a large role in the nutrient dynamics of Lake Kariba.

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Kiibus, M., Kautsky, N. Respiration, nutrient excretion and filtration rate of tropical freshwater mussels and their contribution to production and energy flow in Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe. Hydrobiologia 331, 25–32 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00025404

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00025404

Keywords

  • Phytoplankton
  • Respiration
  • Filtration Rate
  • Total Load
  • Freshwater Mussel