ESR 11:21-33 (2010)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00262

Contribution to the Theme Section 'Responses of animals to habitat alteration'

Medium-term recruitment patterns in Scottish freshwater pearl mussel Margaritifera margaritifera populations

L. C. Hastie*, E. C. Tarr, B. al-Mousawi, M. R. Young

Department of Zoology, University of Aberdeen, Tillydrone Avenue, Aberdeen AB24 2TZ, UK

ABSTRACT: An investigation of recruitment levels in Scottish freshwater pearl mussel Margaritifera margaritifera (L.) populations was conducted in order to determine their medium-term viability. These mussels represent surviving populations considered to be currently viable (in that some recruitment had occurred during the past decade). Selected mussel beds in 8 rivers were surveyed at ~10 yr intervals between 1984 and 2007. Observed changes in mussel density (1996–2007) ranged from –50 to +55%. These may be due to the effects of pearl fishing activity, sampling bias, and, to a lesser extent, habitat degradation. Marked differences between size distributions and corresponding age distributions were observed. Large mussels (>50 mm shell length L) were predominant at every site, although evidence of recent recruitment (mussels <30 mm L and/or aged <5 yr) was observed in each population. Based on the relative abundance of juvenile mussels observed, medium-term stability is indicated in 4 populations. One large population appeared to have localised recruitment problems, as relatively few juveniles were found at one site but larger numbers were found in other parts of the river. Three smaller populations had very few juveniles and appeared to be recruiting at historically low levels. Continued monitoring of these sites every decade will provide valuable information about the population dynamics of long-lived freshwater mussels.


KEY WORDS: Population trends · Dynamics · Mussel beds · Margaritifera margaritifera


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Cite this article as: Hastie LC, Tarr EC, al-Mousawi B, Young MR (2010) Medium-term recruitment patterns in Scottish freshwater pearl mussel Margaritifera margaritifera populations. Endang Species Res 11:21-33. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00262

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