, Volume 527, Issue 1, pp 35–47 | Cite as

Ecosystem Processes Performed by Unionid Mussels in Stream Mesocosms: Species Roles and Effects of Abundance

  • Caryn C. Vaughn
  • Keith B. Gido
  • Daniel E. Spooner


Unionid mussels are a guild of freshwater, sedentary filter-feeders experiencing a global decline in both species richness and abundance. To predict how these losses may impact stream ecosystems we need to quantify the effects of both overall mussel biomass and individual species on ecosystem processes. In this study we begin addressing these fundamental questions by comparing rates of ecosystem processes for two common mussel species, Amblema plicata and Actinonaias ligamentina, across a range of abundance levels and at two trophic states (low and high productivity) in stream mesocosms. At both low and high productivity, community respiration, water column ammonia, nitrate, and phosphorus concentrations, and algal clearance rates were all linearly related to overall mussel biomass. After removing the effects of biomass with ANCOVA, we found few differences between species. In a separate series of experiments, nutrient excretion (phosphorus, ammonia, and molar N:P) and biodeposition rates were only marginally different between species. For the species studied here, functional effects of unionids in streams were similar between species and linearly related to biomass, indicating the potential for strong effects when overall mussel biomass is high and hydrologic residence times are long.

ecosystem processes unionidae species roles biomass clearance rates nutrient excretion biodeposition stream mesocosms stream mussels bivales nutrient cycling functional redundancy 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Caryn C. Vaughn
    • 1
  • Keith B. Gido
    • 1
    • 2
  • Daniel E. Spooner
    • 1
  1. 1.Oklahoma Biological Survey and Department of ZoologyUniversity of OklahomaNormanUSA (Tel.:
  2. 2.Division of BiologyKansas State UniversityManhattenUSA

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