Benedict A.1*, Geist J.1
Rapid climatic and anthropogenic change have led to the global decline of native freshwater mussels, and an increased spread of those which are invasive. Efforts to maintain freshwater mussel diversity have prompted many programs for their conservation and management. One key point to such programs is the collection, maintenance and use of mussel glochidium larvae, which require attachment to a fish host in a sensitive parasitic stage of their life-cycle. Understanding the thermal requirements and host-fish preferences of both native and non-native glochidia can increase knowledge of mussel larval survival and ultimately aid in the development of conservation and management programs. Recent experiments conducted by the Aquatic Systems Biology Unit at the Technical University of Munich investigated the early life-cycle requirements for bivalves currently found in German waterbodies, including the threatened thick-shelled river mussel Unio crassus, the native pond mussels Anatina anatina and Anatina cygnea, and the non-native Chinese pond mussel, Sinanodonta woodiana. Results from these studies illuminate the competitive advantages of non-native mussels as threats for native mussel species and underline the importance of species-specific investigations of the mussel life-cycle for developing effective conservation strategies.
Keywords: conservation, management, life-history, glochidia