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Most of the Margaritifera margaritifera populations in Sweden are not reproducing. Land use such as forestry, eutrophication and water regulation for hydropower are commonly reported causes for the absence of reproduction. A brook with a very dense population of pearl mussels has been investigated with regard to the age distribution of the population and their habitat, in order to discover the reason for the absence of reproduction. The population consisted almost entirely of old mussels with very few young ones. The water flow and chemistry of the water are very stable and well buffered, due to a large glacifluvial deposit in the catchment area. The substrate in the stream is favourable and well aerated to a depth of at least 15 cm. Forestry has been practised with care for at least the last 15 years to avoid siltation of the stream sediments. The most likely reason for the lack of reproduction seems to be the water regulation of the main stream introduced 60 years ago, which has left the main stream dry seasonally. This is likely to have affected the population of brown trout which is the host for the first life-stage of the mussels, the glochidia.
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Keywords: pearl mussel; reproduction; sediment; water quality; water regulation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Ecology and Evolution, Uppsala University, Sweden 2: Department of Land and Water Resources Engineering, KTH, Stockholm, Sweden

Publication date: 2008-12-01

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