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Reproductive Strategy of the Freshwater Pearl Mussel Margaritifera margaritifera
Journal of Animal Ecology
Vol. 56, No. 2 (Jun., 1987), pp. 691-704
Published by: British Ecological Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/5077
Page Count: 14
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(1) The reproductive strategy of the freshwater pearl mussel (Margaritifera margaritifera L.) is marked by two components yielding a high fertility maintained under varying densities. (2) The first component is a combination of a `high life expectancy during the reproductive period', a `high fertility which is independent of age' and an `absence of a postreproductive period' resulting in a single female producing c. 200 X 106 glochidia during its reproductive life span of up to 75 years. (3) The second component reflects the selective values of different modes of reproduction at varying population densities. At high densities most animals are dioecious. At low densities females become hermaphrodites and self-fertilization dominates. But also under these conditions the males probably compensate for some of the deleterious effect of inbreeding. (4) This strategy offers three advantages: (i) due to the extended reproductive period populations are less vulnerable to fluctuations in reproductive success; (ii) the reproductive costs are evenly dispersed over the reproductive period; (iii) even sparse (founder) populations can persist for a long time and are able to reproduce successfully.
Journal of Animal Ecology © 1987 British Ecological Society