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Population structure and microhabitat preference of a threatened freshwater mussel, Westralunio carteri, in south-western Australia

Ma, L., Beatty, S.J.ORCID: 0000-0003-2620-2826, Morgan, D.L. and Lymbery, A.J.ORCID: 0000-0002-0542-3446 (2022) Population structure and microhabitat preference of a threatened freshwater mussel, Westralunio carteri, in south-western Australia. Hydrobiologia, 849 (14). pp. 3227-3244.

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Abstract

Freshwater mussels are important functional components of aquatic ecosystems. Westralunio carteri is a threatened freshwater mussel species, endemic to south-western Australia, which has suffered a recent, dramatic decline in range. The density, size structure and distribution of adult mussels of this species within river reaches were investigated using quadrat searches and modelled against a range of microhabitat factors. Mussels were found from 26 sites in 14 different rivers at a mean density of 28.4 ± 2.3 individuals m−2. The distribution of W. carteri was highly aggregated within river reaches. The most important factors explaining mussel distribution were substrate grain size, substrate debris and distance from the riverbank, with finer substrate, the presence of woody debris and proximity to the riverbank associated with greater abundance of mussels. In all rivers where mussels were found, most populations appeared to be actively recruiting. However, no mussels were found in six sites, despite them having been recorded as present within the last 20 years, which suggests that the range of the species is still in decline. The identification of microhabitat requirements for W. carteri will assist in identifying suitable release sites for translocation and/or captive propagation, which may be required to prevent extinction of the species.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Ecosystems
Publisher: Kluwer Academic Publishers
Copyright: © 2022 The Authors.
United Nations SDGs: Goal 14: Life Below Water
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/65526
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