A review of the physical habitat requirements and research priorities needed to underpin conservation of the endangered freshwater pearl mussel Margaritifera margaritifera

Emma Quinlan, Chris Gibbins, Iain Malcolm, Ramon Batalla, Damia Vericat, Lee Hastie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

1.The freshwater pearl mussel Margaritifera margaritifera has declined across its range but current knowledge of its physical habitat requirements falls short of that needed to confidently guide habitat management and conservation programmes. This paper critically reviews knowledge of the physical habitat requirements of M. margaritifera and sets out a research agenda to address existing knowledge gaps.
2.Present information on the hydraulic, sedimentary and oxygen requirements of M. margaritifera is based largely on descriptive or correlative field studies. Consequently, little is known of the processes that control the correlations observed between habitat conditions and pearl mussel abundance. Furthermore, a pressing concern is the need for standardization of field and laboratory techniques, notably in the context of sediment and hyporheic dissolved oxygen, where the variety of field and analytical techniques applied to date limits transferability.
3.The review identifies nine important research questions and outlines approaches from environmental hydraulics, fluvial geomorphology and fisheries ecology that can be used to address them. Research specifically focused on the role of high and low discharges may help elucidate the hydrological, fluvial and bio-energetic processes that influence M. margaritifera distribution and recruitment. Research is also needed to assess the role of mussels as engineers.
4.The review outlines opportunities to apply new approaches to improve characterization of physical habitat conditions and assess how these conditions influence mussels. Improved characterization will provide a firm evidence base for habitat management and mussel conservation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-124
Number of pages18
JournalAquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems
Volume25
Issue number1
Early online date10 Jul 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015

Keywords

  • Margaritifera
  • sediment
  • hydraulics
  • dissolved oxygen
  • new techniques

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