Modeling Mussels: The Importance of Hydraulic and Dispersal Variables for Unionid Abundance & Diversity
As filter feeders, freshwater mussels (Unionoida) are important for maintaining the quality of freshwater ecosystems. Unionids are among the most imperiled organisms in North America. To maintain biodiversity, it is important to understand unionid population and habitat characteristics. This study investigated habitat variables and biogeographic variables associated with mussel distributions. Trends in our data indicated that higher mussel densities were associated with areas of low shear stress, and coarse substrate. Also, mussel density and richness declined from downstream to upstream. Both biogeographic and habitat factors were indicated as significant but more research is needed to confirm these trends.
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