Demonstrating the practical impact of studies on biotic interactions and adaptation of a threatened unionoid mussel (Margaritifera margaritifera) to its host fish (Salmo trutta)
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionAquatic conservation. 2020, 30 1803-1808. 10.1002/aqc.3428
conservation evaluation, fish, invertebrates, stream1. To understand the ecological factors behind the decline of functionally important threatened species with complex life cycles, many different life-cycle stages need to be investigated. The highly threatened unionoid freshwater mussels, with their complex life cycle, including a parasitic stage on host fish, often have a large influence on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. 2. The overall aim of the present article is to summarize and discuss the impact of two articles published in Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems (AQC) on biotic interactions and adaptation of a threatened unionoid mussel (Margaritifera margaritifera) to its host fish (Salmo trutta). 3. The two AQC publications described research on the influence of population size and density of mussels and host fish, and host–parasite interactions between mussels and their host fish, on the recruitment of juvenile mussels. 4. The results from these publications filled gaps in knowledge and resulted in recommendations and incentives for conservation. The results and method development have been used in practical conservation work with threatened mussel species and have been implemented and cited in management handbooks. The outcome of the publications has been implemented in large conservation and restoration projects, and in several recent scientific publications. 5. Specifically, the results from one publication showed that ecological parameters such as mussel and host fish density and population size influenced recruitment of the threatened freshwater pearl mussel. The results from the second publication showed that understanding host–parasite interactions is important for comparing the suitability of host fish strains, and that host fish strains differ in their suitability for mussel infestations. In combination, the articles show that integrating ecological parameters of threatened mussels and their host fish with host– parasite interaction experiments can be an important influence on conservation recommendations, adaptive management and national management programmes for threatened species.