David L. Strayer

in Freshwater Mussel Ecology

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780520255265
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520942523 | DOI:

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This chapter reviews the impact of enemies on the distribution and abundance of unionoids. Predation, parasitism, and disease are often thought to limit animal populations but these factors have not been thoroughly investigated for unionoids. Mammalian predators (raccoons, otters, and especially muskrats) have received the most attention. These animals conveniently leave the empty shells of the animals they have eaten in neat piles along the shore, so it is possible to count how many mussels they've eaten, and compare the size and species composition of captured mussels with those of the mussel community from which they were taken. Several kinds of invertebrates eat mussels. Crayfish are important predators of snails and zebra mussels, and have recently been shown to eat small (〈 10–20 mm) unionoids. Parasites are also widespread in unionoids and may have serious effects on their hosts. Digenetic trematodes castrate their unionoid hosts and may completely prevent mussel reproduction.

Keywords: unionoid population; predators; predation; mammals; invertebrates; crayfish; parasites

Chapter.  2353 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Aquatic Biology

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