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Declining freshwater mussel diversity in the middle and lower reaches of the Xin River Basin: Threat and Conservation

Citation

Liu, Xiongjun et al. (2022), Declining freshwater mussel diversity in the middle and lower reaches of the Xin River Basin: Threat and Conservation, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.47d7wm38g

Abstract

Freshwater mussels provide important functions and services for aquatic ecosystems, but populations of many species have been extirpated. Information on biodiversity plays an important role in the conservation and management of freshwater mussels. The Xin River Basin is a biodiversity hotspot for freshwater mussels in China, with more than 43 species known, but populations of which are decreasing. Here, we quantify the diversity of freshwater mussels in the middle and lower reaches of the Xin River Basin and study the correlation of habitat characteristics and freshwater mussel diversity. Compared to the historical period, the number of species, density and biomass of freshwater mussels decreased 33%, 83% and 82% in the current period, respectively. 52% of recorded species were empty shells, and 14 native freshwater mussels were not found in the study area. Four species are currently listed as vulnerable species using IUCN criteria and their global status. The assemblage structure of freshwater mussels exhibits significant spatial differences, and there was a correlation with substrate and physicochemical parameters. The main tributary of the Xin River with higher freshwater mussel diversity should be established as one large protected area because the nestedness component was the main pattern of beta diversity. These results indicated freshwater mussel diversity was declining rapidly, which can help focus conservation effort for freshwater mussel biodiversity.