The conservation of unionid mussels in Louisiana rivers: Diversity, assemblage composition and substrate use

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1. To aid in their conservation, unionid mussel assemblages were surveyed in three relatively unstudied rivers in south-eastern Louisiana. 2. Although total species richness varied among rivers, species diversity (as estimated both by Shannon-Weaver H′ and rank-abundance curves) was fairly similar. 3. Assemblage composition varied among the rivers, with the West Pearl River having the most dissimilar group of species. The endangered inflated heel splitter, Potamilus inflatus, was found only in the lower Amite River. 4. The most common species had size distributions skewed towards larger individuals, but small individuals were collected (including the inflated heel splitter), indicating successful recruitment. 5. Mussels were more common in silt than in sand or gravel, perhaps because fine sediments are more stable through time in these river systems. 6. The greatest threat to these assemblages is gravel mining in the upper reaches of the rivers. At the present time only rivers with endangered species, or that have been declared scenic rivers, have any protection from gravel mining. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems

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