Composition of Fish Communities on and off Mussel Beds in the Kiamichi River, Oklahoma

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Brandon J Sansom
Brent N Tweedy
Caryn C Vaughn


Fishes and mussels are prominent organisms in streams of eastern North America. Fish communities have large effects on mussel communities because mussels disperse as ectoparasitic larvae on fish hosts. Mussel communities influence the abundance and composition of algae and macroinvertebrates in streams by providing shell habitat and nutrient subsidies from their excreta, possibly influencing fish communities through these same mechanisms. To begin addressing this question, we asked if fish composition varied on and off mussel beds in the Kiamichi River in Southeastern Oklahoma. We also asked how any observed variation in fish composition between mussel and non-mussel sites was related to fish feeding and nesting traits. We quantitatively sampled 10 sites in summer 2013, including five with and five without large mussel beds. We found no
significant differences in fish abundance, richness, or feeding guilds between mussel and non-mussel sites. However, mussel sites had a significantly higher proportion of nest building fish than nonmussel sites. Our study was limited by sample size, methodology and timing. To robustly address the question of whether mussel communities influence fish communities, we encourage further work that samples more sites, employs a variety of sampling methods, and includes behavioral observations.

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Applied Ecology & Conservation