The influence of stream discontinuity and life history strategy on mussel community structure: a case study from the Sabine River, Texas
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The impoundment of running waters is a threat to freshwater mussels and has only been cursorily examined in Texas. To address this, we evaluate mussel assemblage structure in the Sabine River downstream of a flood control and hydropower reservoir. We use the serial discontinuity concept (SDC) and the Life History Continuum model (LHCM) to explain relationships between stream position (i.e., downstream distance from either dam) and mussel species richness, catch-per-unit effort (CPUE), and life history strategy. Using 90th, 85th, and 80th quantile regression models, we observed that mussel species richness and abundance were reduced for stream segments located near Lake Tawakoni and Toledo Bend Reservoir and that these reductions decreased with distance from either reservoir. We also observed significant shifts in life history composition of mussel assemblages depending on stream position from either dam. Opportunistic strategists were more abundant in reaches located immediately downstream of Lake Tawakoni and Toledo Bend Reservoir whereas periodic and equilibrium strategists were most abundant in reaches located at intermediate distances from either reservoir. Findings from this study confirm the negative impact large impoundments have on downstream mussel populations and demonstrate the value of using the SDC and LHCM for evaluating mussel response to river impoundment.
KeywordsFreshwater mussels Unionidae Flow regulation Assemblage structure Impoundment
We thank Mark Cordova, Joe Skorupski, Ben Lundeen, Eric Tsakiris, Melissa Broderick, Ashley Walters, and Bryan Sowards for their assistance in the field. We gratefully acknowledge Ben Bosman and Wendell Haag for valuable comments on earlier drafts of this manuscript. Funding for this project was provided in part by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Sabine River Authority.
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