Host attraction, brooding phenology, and host specialization on freshwater drum by 4 freshwater mussel species

Bernard E. Sietman, Mark C. Hove, J. Mike Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Freshwater mussels are a diverse group of bivalves with equally diverse life-history traits. We examined host-attracting behaviors, larval-brooding phenology, and larva-host relationships for Ellipsaria lineolata, Leptodea fragilis, Potamilus alatus, and Truncilla truncata through extensive field and laboratory studies. Our data from laboratory trials and recovery and identification of juvenile mussels from naturally infected fish support the long-held assumption that freshwater drum (Aplodinotus grunniens) probably is the exclusive host for these species and is a suitable host for Potamilus ohiensis and Truncilla donaciformis. These species have subtle but distinctive host-attracting behaviors involving use of a mantle lure to facilitate larval transfer to the host. General lure morphology and movement behavior were similar between E. lineolata and T. truncata and between L. fragilis and P. alatus, species pairs that are closely related, whereas displaying orientation was variable among species. Ellipsaria lineolata, L. fragilis, and P. alatus were long-term larval brooders, but duration and correspondence with displaying activity were dissimilar. Truncilla truncata was a short-term larval brooder in the St Croix River and is among the few documented examples of short-term brooding in the Tribe Lampsilini. The range of morphological and behavioral characters in these mussels coupled with the relatively uncommon character of specializing on a single host species make this group a model for evolutionary, phylogenetic, and ecological studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)96-107
Number of pages12
JournalFreshwater Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


  • Aplodinotus grunniens
  • Brooding behavior
  • Ellipsaria
  • Glochidia
  • Leptodea
  • Life history
  • Mantle lure
  • Potamilus
  • Truncilla
  • Unionidae

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