Mass mortality of native and alien freshwater mussels due to extremely low water levels of the river Waal (Photo F. Collas).
Freshwater mussels are important for river and lakes ecosystems. Native species contribute for example to keep the rivers clean as mussels are fed with the algae and bacteria floating in the water. While native mussels are threatened or extinct, alien species are becoming invasive and their increasing number change the functioning of the river ecosystem. In the light of more extreme environmental conditions that are often affected by global change (i.e., water temperature, water depth, oxygen availability, and flow velocity), we systematically reviewed 493 scientific publications to identify the sensitivity of freshwater mussels in European such as the river Waal in The Netherlands. This literature review resulted in a database with 8405 data entries that included field-based occurrence and laboratory-derived minimum and maximum values for the presence or absence of freshwater mussels.
Findings and Implications to practice
Based on this dataset, we derived sensitivity distributions (SSDs) of European freshwater mussel species for water temperature, flow velocity, water depth, dissolved oxygen levels, and air exposure. Interestingly, the temperature sensitivity of alien mussels (% of potentially absent or not occurring fraction) was found to be higher compared to native mussels. Thereby, we identified the most vulnerable species to global change.
For example, on the right photo, maximum habitat temperature (blue line) of alien species (red line) and native species (blue line) of freshwater bivalve species. The 2.5% and 97.5% confidence intervals (dotted lines). Symbols represent a species family. Therefore, we concluded that European mussels that are already vulnerable and endangered are most sensitive to global change. Therefore, conservation efforts should focus on the species with a high sensitivity to global change. The maximum and minimum sensitivity levels are useful to improve the design of river restoration measures throughout the European continent.
Collas, F. P. L., Buijse, A. D., Hendriks, A. J., van der Velde, G., & Leuven, R. S. E. W. (2018). Sensitivity of native and alien freshwater bivalve species in Europe to climate-related environmental factors. Ecosphere, 9(5), e02184. https://doi.org/10.1002/ecs2.2184
- Appendixes: S1. Supplemental results figures and tables; S2. References included in the freshwater mussel database and S3. Additional robustness analyses.
- Here is also available the list of related conference abstracts and (under)graduate thesis with progress results of the main researcher or contributors to this project.
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Last modified: 12/05/2019