A developmental bottleneck in dispersing larvae: implications for spatial population dynamics

Authors

  • Daniel W. Schneider,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Center for Aquatic Ecology, Illinois Natural History Survey, Champaign, IL 61820, USA
      * Correspondence: Tel.: +1 217 244 7681; fax: +1 217 244 1717; E-mail: ddws@uiuc.edu
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    • 1

      Larvae in this study were all Dreissena polymorpha; there have been no quagga mussels, D. bugensis, reported from the Illinois River. Of approximately 10 000 adult mussels collected in the Illinois River in our research we have never found a quagga mussel.

  • James A. Stoeckel,

    1. Department of Zoology, Miami University, Oxford, OH 45056, USA
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  • Chris R. Rehmann,

    1. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801, USA
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  • K. Douglas Blodgett,

    1. The Nature Conservancy, Lewistown, IL 61543, USA
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  • Richard E. Sparks,

    1. Environmental Council, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801, USA
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  • Dianna K. Padilla

    1. Department of Ecology and Evolution, State University of New York at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, NY 11794, USA
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* Correspondence: Tel.: +1 217 244 7681; fax: +1 217 244 1717; E-mail: ddws@uiuc.edu

Abstract

We found evidence for a critical population bottleneck at a developmental-stage transition in larvae of the zebra mussel Dreissena polymorpha Pallas from field estimates of mortality. Identification of this critical period in the field was made possible by closely tracking cohorts of larvae over 5 days of development as they dispersed 128 km in a river system. The presence of a survival bottleneck during development was confirmed in laboratory studies of zebra mussel larvae. Development-specific mortality has important implications for spatial population dynamics of the zebra mussel in particular, and all species with indirect development in general. Marine reserves that do not take development-specific mortality into account may dramatically underestimate reserve size needed to protect rare and/or exploited marine populations. Conversely, for the zebra mussel, the lower contribution of dispersing individuals to population growth downstream of reserves can lead to more feasible control through the blocking of dispersal.

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