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Burrowing, byssus, and biomarkers: behavioral and physiological indicators of sublethal thermal stress in freshwater mussels (Unionidae)

April 1, 2013

Recent research has elucidated the acute lethal effects of elevated water temperatures to glochidia (larvae), juvenile, and adult life stages of freshwater mussels (Order Unionida), but few studies have focused on sublethal effects of thermal stress. We evaluated the sublethal effects of elevated temperature on burrowing behavior and byssus production in juveniles, and on enzymatic biomarkers of stress in adults in acute (96 h) laboratory experiments in sediment, with two acclimation temperatures (22 and 27 °C) and two experimental water levels (watered and dewatered) as proxies for flow regime. Increasing temperature significantly reduced burrowing in all five species tested, and the dewatered treatment (a proxy for drought conditions) reduced burrowing in all but Amblema plicata. Production of byssal threads was affected most drastically by flow regime, with the probability of byssus presence reduced by 93–99% in the dewatered treatment, compared to the watered treatment (a proxy for low flow conditions); increasing temperature alone reduced byssus by 18–35%. Alanine aminotransferase and aspartate aminotransferase were significantly affected by treatment temperature in the 27 °C acclimation, watered test (p = 0.04 and 0.02, respectively). Our results are important in the context of climate change, because stream temperature and flow are expected to change with increasing air temperature and altered precipitation patterns.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2013
Title Burrowing, byssus, and biomarkers: behavioral and physiological indicators of sublethal thermal stress in freshwater mussels (Unionidae)
DOI 10.1080/10236244.2013.805891
Authors Jennifer M. Archambault, W. Gregory Cope, Thomas J. Kwak
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Marine and Freshwater Behaviour and Physiology
Series Number
Index ID 70148664
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Atlanta

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