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Animal Biodiversity and Conservation. Volume 45.2 (2022) Pages: 203-215

Assessment of endangered freshwater pearl mussel populations in the Northern Iberian Plateau in relation to non–native species: xenodiversity as a threat

Morales, J.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.32800/abc.2022.45.0203

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Abstract

In the last two decades, small populations of freshwater pearl mussels, Margaritifera margaritifera, have been recorded in Mediterranean rivers of the Iberian Northern Plateau. A survey was carried out in Castilla and León in 2018 to assess the development of populations of this species in all the rivers of known distribution and to update the threat classification. Thirty sections in the rivers Negro, Tera, Alberche and Águeda were positive for its presence, and another 50 stretches of seven rivers were negative. The species is currently distributed over about 22.5 km. Águeda and Tera populations have decreased dramatically in the last 14 years and are on the threshold of extinction. The Negro river supports the largest population, although the species has now disappeared in at least 61 % of the stretches that were inhabited in 2004. All populations showed very low densities and an ageing population structure, with no recruitment for decades. The presence of non-native invasive alien species (NIS) was higher than in a previous regional survey, with the signal crayfish representing the greatest threat. We observed changes in benthic microhabitats and direct predation of adults and glochidia conglutinates. In the Alberche River, in strict syntopy with M. margaritifera and two other mussel species, 10 NIS were detected. The current hydrological and ecological conditions in the Duero watershed support the settlement of exotic species to the disadvantage of native mollusks, which are more demanding in terms of microhabitats.

Keywords

Freshwater invasion, Pearl mussels, Survey, Declining population, Signal crayfish, Duero watershed

Cite

Morales, J., 2022. Assessment of endangered freshwater pearl mussel populations in the Northern Iberian Plateau in relation to non–native species: xenodiversity as a threat. Animal Biodiversity and Conservation, 45: 203-215, DOI: https://doi.org/10.32800/abc.2022.45.0203

Reception date:

14/02/2022

Acceptation date:

24/05/2022

Publication date:

13/06/2022

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