Honors Program

University Honors

Date of Award


Thesis Professor(s)

Joseph R. Bidwell

Thesis Professor Department

<--College of Arts and Sciences-->

Thesis Reader(s)

Joseph R. Bidwell, Thomas F. Laughlin, Thomas W. Townsend


The Pocket-book mussel, Lampsilis ovata, is a native freshwater bivalve species that is endemic to North America. The salinity tolerance of this species is of interest because anthropogenic salinization events and climate change factors threaten their natural freshwater habitats. Furthermore, the invasive freshwater bivalve species Corbicula fluminea has been shown to display significant salinity tolerance, which may lead to negative competitive interactions with native freshwater bivalve species if the salinization of freshwater habitats exceeds thresholds beyond which native species can effectively cope. It was hypothesized that L. ovata would be sensitive to salinity conditions above 1 g/L and respond by closing their valves. To investigate this, juvenile pocket-book mussels were subjected to three experiments which measured tissue-water content, hemolymph osmolality, and oxygen consumption after salinity exposure to 0, 2.5, 5, and 10 g/L. The 96-hour exposure study showed that the 2.5 g/L and 5 g/L treatment groups had significantly lower average percent tissue-water content than the control group. The average percent tissue-water content for mussels exposed to 2.5 g/L and 5 g/L dropped 2.4% and 2.2%, respectively. In the 24-hour time-course study, it was observed that changes in the average percent tissue-water content for all treatment groups primarily occurred after four hours of exposure. In the same study, the osmolality of the control group maintained an average of 31.2 mOsm/kg over the 24-hour period, despite the osmolality of the treatment water being 2 mOsm/kg. The hemolymph osmolality concentration of mussels exposed to the 2.5 g/L and 5 g/L treatments increased to osmotically conform to their treatment waters. After 24 hours, the hemolymph osmolality of the 2.5 g/L and 5 g/L treatment groups was 79 mOsm/kg and 163 mOsm/kg, respectively. Contrastingly, the osmolality of mussels exposed to the 10 g/L treatment maintained an average hemolymph osmolality of approximately 132 mOsm/kg, while the osmolality of the treatment water was 320 mOsm/kg. Lastly, the oxygen-consumption study showed that mussels exposed to the 5 g/L treatment consumed a significantly lower amount of dissolved oxygen than that of the control and the 2.5 g/L treatment by an average of 1.6 mg O2/mg/h. The control group consumed an average of 4.66 mg O2/mg/h, while the 2.5 g/L treatment group consumed the highest amount of dissolved oxygen with an average of 5.05 mg O2/mg/h. The data collected from these studies suggest that juvenile L. ovata might not be able to tolerate salinities greater than 2.5 g/L for an extended amount of time. Mussels exposed to the 5 g/L treatment and the 10 g/L treatment demonstrated varying degrees of behavioral avoidance and much higher morbidity rates. In contrast, the 2.5 g/L treatment group showed minimal behavioral avoidance and an elevated oxygen consumption rate. When compared to similar studies performed on C. fluminea, these results support the hypothesis that L. ovata is more sensitive to saline conditions than the invasive species and could be replaced by the invasive species if habitat conditions exceeded 2.5 g/L salinity.


East Tennessee State University

Document Type

Honors Thesis - Open Access

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