Newly documented host fishes for the eastern elliptio mussel (Elliptio complanata)

Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management
By: , and 



The eastern elliptio Elliptio complanata is a common, abundant, and ecologically important freshwater mussel that occurs throughout the Atlantic Slope drainage in the United States and Canada. Previous research has shown E. complanata glochidia to be host fish generalists, parasitizing yellow perch Perca flavescens, banded killifish Fundulus diaphanus, banded sculpin Cottus carolinae, and seven centrarchid species. Past laboratory studies have been conducted in the Midwest; however, glochidia used in these studies were obtained from adult mussels in the Great Lakes or St. Lawrence River basins, or glochidia sources were not reported. The objective of this study was to identify host fishes for E. complanata from streams in the Mid-Atlantic region. We used artificial laboratory infections to test host suitability of 38 fish and 2 amphibian species with E. complanata glochidia from the Chesapeake Bay drainage. Glochidia successfully metamorphosed into juvenile mussels on five fish species: American eel Anguilla rostrata, brook trout Salvelinus fontinalis, lake trout Salvelinus namaycush, mottled sculpin Cottus bairdii, and slimy sculpin Cottus cognatus. American eel was the most effective host, yielding the highest overall metamorphosis success (percentage of attached glochidia that transformed into juvenile mussels; ≥0.90) and producing 13.2 juveniles per fish overall. No juvenile E. complanata metamorphosed on other fish or amphibian species tested, including many previously identified host fishes that appear in the literature. Reasons for discrepancies in published host fish could include geographic variation in host use across the species' range, differences in host use between lentic and lotic populations, or poorly resolved taxonomy within the genus Elliptio.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Newly documented host fishes for the eastern elliptio mussel (Elliptio complanata)
Series title Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management
DOI 10.3996/102012-JFWM-094
Volume 4
Issue 1
Year Published 2013
Language English
Publisher U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Leetown
Description 11 p.
First page 75
Last page 85
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