We present long-term growth trends for 13 freshwater mussel species from two unregulated rivers and one regulated river in the southeastern U.S. Coastal Plain. We also collected baldcypress (Taxodium distichum (L.) Rich.) tree cores adjacent to mussel collection sites in one river and directly compared tree and mussel chronologies in this river. To extend our analysis spatially, we examined published baldcypress chronologies from six other unregulated rivers throughout the region. Biochronologies were developed using standard dendrochronology techniques and we explored relationships between annual growth and a suite of streamflow variables in each river. Growth of mussels in unregulated rivers was negatively correlated with annual flood pulse count and May and June discharge, but positively correlated with annual low pulse count and annual number of hydrographic reversals. Baldcypress growth in unregulated rivers was positively correlated with May and June discharge and negatively correlated with annual low pulse count. Mussel growth in the regulated river was not correlated with any streamflow variable suggesting that biological rhythms are decoupled from hydrologic variations in this system. This study shows how interannual variability in streamflow can benefit diverse taxa in floodplain rivers over long periods and how river regulation can disrupt these relationships.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Ahlstedt, S. A. and J. J. Jenkinson. 1991. Distribution and abundance of Potamilus capax and other freshwater mussels in the St. Francis River system, Arkansas and Missouri, USA. Walkerana 5: 225–61.
Benke, A. C. 1990. A perspective on America’s vanishing streams. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 9: 77–88.
Benke, A. C., I. Chaubey, G. M. Ward, and E. L. Dunn. 2000. Flood pulse dynamics of an unregulated river floodplain in the southeastern US coastal plain. Ecology 81: 2730–41.
Black, B. A. and M. D. Abrams. 2005. Disturbance history and climate response in an old-growth hemlock-white pine forest, central Pennsylvania. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 132: 103–14.
Black, B. A., G. W. Boehlert, and M. M. Yoklavich. 2005. Using tree-ring crossdating techniques to validate annual growth increments in long-lived fishes. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 62: 2277–84.
Christian, A. D., B. N. Smith, D. J. Berg, J. C. Smoot, and R. H. Findlay. 2004. Trophic position and potential food sources of 2 species of unionid bivalves (Mollusca: Unionidae) in 2 small Ohio streams. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 23: 101–13.
Clark, G. R. 1980. Study of molluscan shell structure and growth lines using thin sections. p. 603–06. In D. C. Rhoads and R. A. Lutz (eds.) Skeletal Growth in Aquatic Organisms. Plenum Press, New York, NY, USA.
Cook, E. R. and R. L. Holmes. 1984. Program ARSTAN and Users Manual. Lamont Doherty Geological Observatory, Palisades, NY, USA.
Demaree, D. 1932. Submerging experiments with Taxodium. Ecology 13: 258–62.
Fritts, H. C. 1966. Growth rings of trees: their correlation with climate. Science 154: 973–79.
Fritts, H. C. 1971. Dendroclimatology and dendroecology. Quaternary Research 1: 419–49.
Galat, D. L. and I. Zweimuller. 2001. Conserving large-river fishes: is the highway analogy an appropriate paradigm? Journal of the North American Benthological Society 20: 266–79.
Girardin, M. P., J. Tardif, and M. D. Flannigan. 2006. Temporal variability in area burned for the province of Ontario, Canada, during the past 200 years inferred from tree rings. Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres 111: 1–4.
Haag, W. R. and A. M. Commens-Carson. 2008. Testing the assumption of annual shell ring deposition in freshwater mussels. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 65: 493–508.
Haag, W. R. and M. L. Warren. 2007. Freshwater mussel assemblage structure in a regulated river in the Lower Mississippi River Alluvial Basin, USA. Aquatic Conservation-Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 17: 25–36.
Helama, S., B. R. Schöne, B. A. Black, and E. Dunca. 2006. Constructing long-term proxy series for aquatic environments with absolute dating control using a sclerochronological approach: introduction and advanced applications. Marine and Freshwater Research 57: 591–99.
Hesse, I. D., J. W. Day, and T. W. Doyle. 1998. Long-term growth enhancement of baldcypress (Taxodium distichum) from municipal wastewater application. Environmental Management 22: 119–27.
Howard, J. K. and K. M. Cuffey. 2003. Freshwater mussels in a California North Coast Range river: occurrence, distribution, and controls. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 22: 63–77.
Howard, J. K. and K. M. Cuffey. 2006. Factors controlling the age structure of Margaritifera falcata in 2 northern California streams. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 25: 677–90.
Hruska, J. 1992. The freshwater pearl mussel in south Bohemia: evaluation of the effect of temperature on reproduction, growth and age Structure of the Population. Archiv Für Hydrobiologie 126: 181–91.
Junk, W. J., P. B. Bayley, and R. E. Sparks. 1989. The flood pulse concept in river-floodplain systems. p. 110–27. In D. P. Dodge (ed.) Proceedings of the International Large River Symposium, vol. 106. Canadian Special Publication in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences.
Keeland, B. D. and W. H. Conner. 1999. Natural regeneration and growth of Taxodium distichum (L.) Rich in Lake Chicot, Louisiana after 44 years of flooding. Wetlands 19: 149–55.
Keeland, B. D. and P. J. Young. 1997. Long-term growth trends of baldcypress (Taxodium distichum (L.) Rich.) at Caddo Lake, Texas. Wetlands 17: 559–66.
Kwak, T. J. 1988. Lateral movement and use of flood plain habitat by fishes of the Kankakee River, Illinois. American Midland Naturalist 120: 241–49.
Latimer, S. D., M. S. Devall, C. Thomas, E. G. Ellgaard, S. D. Kumar, and L. B. Thien. 1996. Dendrochronology and heavy metal deposition in tree rings of baldcypress. Journal of Environmental Quality 25: 1411–19.
Layzer, J. B. and L. M. Madison. 1995. Microhabitat use by freshwater mussels and recommendations for determining their instream flow needs. Regulated Rivers: Research & Management 10: 329–45.
LeBreton, G. T. O. and F. W. H. Beamish. 2000. Interannual growth variation in fish and tree rings. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 57: 2345–56.
LeBreton, G. T. O., F. W. H. Beamish, and R. G. Wallace. 1999. Lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) growth chronologies. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 56: 1752–56.
Lydeard, C. and R. L. Mayden. 1995. A diverse and endangered aquatic ecosystem of the southeast United States. Conservation Biology 9: 800–05.
McCullagh, W. H., J. D. Williams, S. W. McGregor, J. M. Pierson, and C. Lydeard. 2002. The unionid (Bivalvia) fauna of the Sipsey River northwestern Alabama, an aquatic hotspot. American Malacological Bulletin 17: 1–15.
Neves, R. J. and S. N. Moyer. 1988. Evaluation of techniques for age determination of freshwater mussels (Unionidae). American Malacological Bulletin 6: 179–88.
Norkko, J., J. E. Hewitt, and T. S. F.. 2006. Effects of increased sedimentation on the physiology of two estuarine soft-sediment bivalves, Austrovenus stutchburyi and Paphies aus trails. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 333: 12–26.
Olden, J. D. and N. L. Poff. 2003. Redundancy and the choice of hydrologic indices for characterizing streamflow regimes. River Research and Applications 19: 101–21.
Payette, S., L. Filion, and A. Delwaide. 1990. Disturbance regime of a cold temperate forest as deduced from tree-ring patterns — the Tantare-Ecological-Reserve, Quebec. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 20: 1228–41.
Pettit, N. E. and R. J. Naiman. 2007. Fire in the riparian zone: Characteristics and ecological consequences. Ecosystems 10: 673–87.
Poff, N. L., J. D. Allan, M. B. Bain, J. R. Karr, K. L. Prestegaard, B. D. Richter, R. E. Sparks, and J. C. Stromberg. 1997. The natural flow regime. Bioscience 47: 769–84.
Pringle, C. M., M. C. Freeman, and B. J. Freeman. 2000. Regional effects of hydrologic alterations on riverine macrobiota in the New World: Tropical-temperate comparisons. Bioscience 50: 807–23.
Rypel, A. L., D. A. Arrington, and R. H. Findlay. 2008a. Mercury in southeastern US riverine fish populations linked to waterbody type. Environmental Science and Technology 42: 5118–24.
Rypel, A. L., W. R. Haag, and R. H. Findlay. 2008b. Validation of annual growth rings in freshwater mussel shells using crossdating. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 65: 2224–32.
Rypel, A. L., D. R. Bayne, and J. B. Mitchell. 2006. Growth of freshwater drum from lotic and lentic habitats in Alabama. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 135: 987–97.
Schöne, B. R. 2003. A ‘clam-ring’ master-chronology constructed from a short-lived bivalve mollusc from the northern Gulf of California, USA. Holocene 13: 39–49.
Schöne, B. R., E. Dunca, H. Mutvei, and U. Norlund. 2004. A 217-year record of summer air temperature reconstructed from freshwater pearl mussels (M. margaritifera, Sweden). Quaternary Science Reviews 23: 1803–16.
Slipke, J. W., S. M. Sammons, and M. J. Maceina. 2005. Importance of connectivity of backwater areas for fish production in Demopolis Reservoir, Alabama. Journal of Freshwater Ecology 20: 479–85.
Smith, M. C. 2007. Long-term changes in hydrology, tree growth, and forest composition along the Apalachicola River. MSc. The Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL, USA.
Speer, J. H., T. W. Swetnam, B. E. Wickman, and A. Youngblood. 2001. Changes in pandora moth outbreak dynamics during the past 622 years. Ecology 82: 679–97.
Stahle, D. W. 1996. Tree ring chronology, baldcypress (Taxodium distichum) from the Cache River. International Tree Ring Database. NCDC Paleoclimatology Program, Boulder, CO, USA.
Stahle, D. W. and M. K. Cleaveland. 1996a. Tree ring chronology, baldcypress (Taxodium distichum) from the Ocmulgee River. International Tree Ring Database. NOAA/ NCDC Paleoclimatology Program, Boulder, CO.
Stahle, D. W. and M. K. Cleaveland. 1996b. Tree ring chronology, baldcypress (Taxodium distichum) from the St. Francis Sunklands. International Tree Ring Database. NOAA/ NCDC Paleoclimatology Program, Boulder, CO.
Stahle, D. W. and M. K. Cleaveland. 2005a. Tree ring chronology, baldcypress (Taxodium distichum) from the Choctawhatchee River. International Tree Ring Database. NOAA/ NCDC Paleoclimatology Program, Boulder, CO.
Stahle, D. W. and M. K. Cleaveland. 2005b. Tree ring chronology, baldcypress (Taxodium distichum) from the Nottoway River. International Tree Ring Database. NOAA/NCDC Paleoclimatology Program, Boulder, CO.
Stahle, D. W., M. K. Cleaveland, and J. G. Hehr. 1996. Tree ring chronology, baldcypress (Taxodium distichum) from the Altamaha River. International Tree Ring Database. NOAA/NCDC Paleoclimatology Program, Boulder, CO.
Stahle, D. W., E. R. Cook, and J. W. C. White. 1985. Tree-ring dating of baldcypress and the potential for millennia-long chronologies in the southeast. American Antiquity 50: 796–802.
Strayer, D. L. 1999. Use of flow refuges by unionid mussels in rivers. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 18: 468–76.
Vaughn, C. C. and C. M. Taylor. 1999. Impoundments and the decline of freshwater mussels: A case study of an extinction gradient. Conservation Biology 13: 912–20.
Veinott, G. I. and R. J. Cornett. 1996. Identification of annually produced bands in the shell of the freshwater mussel Elliptio complanata using the seasonal cycle of d18O. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 53: 372–79.
Villella, R. F., D. R. Smith, and D. P. Lemarié. 2004. Estimating survival and recruitment in a freshwater mussel population using mark-recapture techniques. American Midland Naturalist 151: 114–33.
Ward, G. M., P. M. Harris, and A. K. Ward. 2005. Gulf coast rivers of the Southeastern United States. p. 125–78. In A. C. Benke and C. E. Cushing (eds.) Rivers of North America. Elsevier, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Yamaguchi, D. K. 1991. A simple method for cross-dating increment cores from living trees. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 21: 414–16.
Young, P. J., B. D. Keeland, and R. R. Sharitz. 1995. Growthresponse of baldcypress Taxodium distichum (L) Rich to an altered hydrologic regime. American Midland Naturalist 133: 206–12.
Young, P. J., J. P. Megonigal, R. R. Sharitz, and F. P. Day. 1993. False ring formation in baldcypress (Taxodium-distichum) saplings under 2 flooding regimes. Wetlands 13: 293–98.
Zeug, S. C., K. O. Winemiller, and S. Tarim. 2005. Response of Brazos River oxbow fish assemblages to patterns of hydrologic connectivity and environmental variability. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 134: 1389–99.
About this article
Cite this article
Rypel, A.L., Haag, W.R. & Findlay, R.H. Pervasive hydrologic effects on freshwater mussels and riparian trees in southeastern floodplain ecosystems. Wetlands 29, 497–504 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1672/08-109.1
- flood pulse
- tree ring