The Population Genetic Structure of Quadrula aurea (Bivalvia: Unionidae), A Threatened Freshwater Mussel in Central Texas

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The anthropogenic alteration of riverine ecosystems has led to declines in the abundance and diversity of freshwater mussels (Bivalvia: Unionoida) worldwide. Central Texas is home to a diverse freshwater mussel fauna including three candidates for federal listing under the Endangered Species Act. Surveys conducted over the last few decades suggest many of the endemic freshwater mussel species in Texas exist in small isolated populations that may be vulnerable to the deleterious effects of genetic diversity loss. Microsatellite primers from two closely related species were used to identify a set of genetic markers that functioned in the Golden Orb (Quadrula aurea). ... continued below

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Mabe, Jeffrey A May 2018.

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  • Mabe, Jeffrey A

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The anthropogenic alteration of riverine ecosystems has led to declines in the abundance and diversity of freshwater mussels (Bivalvia: Unionoida) worldwide. Central Texas is home to a diverse freshwater mussel fauna including three candidates for federal listing under the Endangered Species Act. Surveys conducted over the last few decades suggest many of the endemic freshwater mussel species in Texas exist in small isolated populations that may be vulnerable to the deleterious effects of genetic diversity loss. Microsatellite primers from two closely related species were used to identify a set of genetic markers that functioned in the Golden Orb (Quadrula aurea). Microsatellite markers were then applied to document the population genetic structure of Q. aurea within and among three connected river drainages in southeastern Texas. Gene flow within existing Q. aurea populations appears high indicating little potential for genetic issues stemming from isolation and inbreeding. Two weakly divergent admixed populations were identified occupying the San Antonio and Guadalupe/San Marcos rivers. Population genetic structure was related to river basin affiliation, but results for environmental factors were unresolved. Current effective population size estimates are large for the Guadalupe/San Marcos drainage and moderately large for the San Antonio drainage and there is no clear genetic evidence of contemporary population declines. Transport in the glochidial phase by a highly mobile host fish, the channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus), may provide a mechanism for maintaining connectivity among spatially discrete mussel beds and deserves further study. Information on the occurrence and habitat associations of Q. aurea and two other threatened freshwater mussel species was documented. Quantification of the population genetic structure for Q. aurea provides important information needed for the management of this species, a baseline for understanding future changes, and insight into the factors that shape the population genetic structure of other threatened unionids in Texas.

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  • May 2018

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  • June 6, 2018, 1:19 p.m.

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Mabe, Jeffrey A. The Population Genetic Structure of Quadrula aurea (Bivalvia: Unionidae), A Threatened Freshwater Mussel in Central Texas, dissertation, May 2018; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1157526/: accessed September 25, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .