Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Alan D. Christian

Second Advisor

Solange Brault

Third Advisor

Ron Etter


Freshwater mussels recycle nutrients within their environment and the extent of their influence depends on both pond nutrient concentrations and time of year. The goal of this study was to investigate the nutrient (C, N, and P) contribution of the freshwater mussel Elliptio complanata (Lightfoot 1786) in a New England pond. This was accomplished by characterizing physical and chemical parameters and nutrient limitation of the pond and by performing a series of nutrient-release experiments which made possible the quantification of C, N, and P in seston and mussel tissues and mussel excretion and biodeposition. Despite no apparent nutrient limitation, Tispaquin Pond is oligotrophic and experiences low primary production in the water column. However, nutrient availability varied over time. Overall, seston was low in % N and DIN:SRP of the pond was often under Redfield's ratio. The retention of P by E. complanata to maintain low N:P in tissues resulted in high N:P excretion. This suggests E. complanata may relieve potential N shortages via excretion. As mussels may experience different stoichiometric requirements at different life stages, the magnitude of nutrient contributions likely depends on the time of year and the size of the individual mussels. This study contributes to a more comprehensive understanding of the ecological role played by indigenous bivalves in lakes and pond ecosystems.


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