Complex hydraulic and substrate variables limit freshwater mussel species richness and abundance

Daniel C. Allen, Caryn C. Vaughn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

84 Scopus citations

Abstract

We examined how substrate and complex hydraulic variables limit the distribution of freshwater mussels. We sampled mussels and measured substrate and hydraulic variables (at low and high flows) at 6 sites in the Little River, Oklahoma. To test which variables were most limiting to mussel species richness and abundance, we evaluated univariate and multiple 95th-, 90 th-, and 85th-quantile regression models using a model selection approach. Across all 3 quantiles analyzed, hydraulic variables related to substrate stability (relative shear stress ratio RSS and shear stress) at high flows most limited mussel species richness and abundance. High-flow substrate stability models performed the best, but models that used substrate variables (substrate size and heterogeneity) also performed relatively well. Models that used complex hydraulic variables estimated at low flows performed poorly compared to those using the same variables estimated at high flows, a result suggesting that hydraulic conditions at low flows do not limit mussel habitat in our system. Our results demonstrate that substrate stability at high flows is an important factor governing mussel distributions. Last, our quantile regression approach successfully quantified the limiting-factor relationships of substrate and hydraulic characteristics on mussel habitat, and this approach could be used in other studies investigating habitat requirements of aquatic organisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)383-394
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the North American Benthological Society
Volume29
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2010

Keywords

  • Constraint relationships
  • Limiting-factor
  • Model selection
  • Quantile regression
  • Unionidae habitat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science

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