Stable isotopes reveal the importance of terrestrially derived resources for the diet of the freshwater pearl mussel (Margaritifera margaritifera)

Publikation: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftForschungsartikelBeigetragenBegutachtung



The freshwater pearl mussel (FPM) is among the most endangered freshwater species worldwide. The few remaining populations suffer from low recruitment rates and are subject to habitat fragmentation, pollution, siltation, decline or loss of host fish populations, and climate change. Successful conservation strategies for FPM require a holistic understanding of its ecological requirements, life history, population dynamics, and habitat prerequisites. Although habitat requirements are well described, food requirements at different life stages have received less attention. Stable isotope analyses of FPM and potential food resources in three German streams were combined with mixing model analysis to quantify organic matter resources assimilated by juvenile (first year after encystment from host fish) and semi-adult (10 years old, immature) individuals. There were only slight differences in dietary contributions between the two life stages, and terrestrial particulate organic matter and benthic organic matter contributed substantially to the diet. Tissue type was more important in explaining variation in dietary contributions than individual variation for semi-adult FPM. The strong reliance on terrestrial resources sheds new light on the functional role of unionid mussels and the connection of streams to their riparian area. The dependence of FPM on terrestrial resources also emphasizes the need for a stronger focus on the restoration and protection of intact riparian areas, including wetlands with their specific vegetation, when planning conservation and management strategies for threatened FPM populations.


Seiten (von - bis)2496-2505
FachzeitschriftAquatic conservation : marine and freshwater ecosystems
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - Sept. 2021

Externe IDs

Scopus 85108323628
ORCID /0000-0002-6048-6984/work/142240081
ORCID /0000-0003-2159-9609/work/142254791
ORCID /0000-0002-8250-0986/work/150330196



  • aquatic-terrestrial coupling, conservation, feeding ecology, mixing models, species conservation, stable isotope analysis, DECLINE, L., DISCRIMINATION, CONSERVATION, STREAM