Survival, Growth and Condition of Freshwater Mussels: Effects of Municipal Wastewater Effluent
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Freshwater mussels (Family Unionidae) are among the most imperiled group of organisms in the world, with nearly 65% of North American species considered endangered. Anthropogenic disturbances, including altered flow regimes, habitat alteration, and pollution, are the major driver of this group's decline. We investigated the effects of tertiary treated municipal wastewater effluent on survivorship, growth, and condition of freshwater mussels in experimental cages in a small Central Texas stream. We tested the effluent effects by measuring basic physical parameters of native three ridge mussels (Amblema plicata) and of non-native Asian clams (Corbicula fluminea), before and after 72-day exposure at four sites above and below a municipal wastewater treatment plant outfall. Survivorship and growth of the non-native Asian clams and growth and condition indices of the native three ridge mussels were significantly higher at the reference site above the outfall than in downstream sites. We attribute this reduction in fitness below the outfall to elevated nutrient and heavy metal concentrations, and the potential presence of other untested-for compounds commonly found in municipal effluent. These results, along with an absence of native mussels below the discharge, indicate a significant negative impact of wastewater effluent on both native and non-native mussels in the stream.
CitationNobles, T., & Zhang, Y. (2015). Survival, growth and condition of freshwater mussels: Effects of municipal wastewater effluent. PLoS One, 10(06), e0128488.
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