Nonlethal assessment of freshwater mussel physiological response to changes in environmental factors

Andrea K. Fritts, J. T. Peterson, J. M. Wisniewski, R. B. Bringolf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The development of effective nonlethal biomonitoring techniques is imperative for the preservation of imperiled freshwater mussel populations. Changes in hemolymph chemistry profiles and tissue glycogen are potential biomarkers for nonlethally monitoring stress in mussels. We sampled three species in the Flint River Basin over 2 years to evaluate how these hemolymph and tissue biomarkers responded to environmental changes. We used hierarchical linear models to evaluate the relationships between variation in the biomarkers and environmental factors and found that the responses of the hemolymph and tissue parameters were strongly related to stream discharge. Shifts in alanine aminotransferase and glycogen showed the largest relations with discharge at the time of sampling, while magnesium levels were most explained by the discharge for 5 days prior to sampling. Aspartate aminotransferase, bicarbonate, and calcium showed the strongest relations with mean discharge for 15 days prior to sampling. The modeling results indicated that biomarker responses varied substantially among individuals of different size, sex, and species and illustrated the value of hierarchical modeling techniques to account for the inherent complexity of aquatic ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1460-1468
Number of pages9
JournalCanadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Issue number10
StatePublished - Jun 8 2015


  • INHS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science


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