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Abstract

North American freshwater mussels (Bivalvia: Unionidae) have been exploited commercially for over 100 years and have been regulated using shell size limits and/or harvest seasons. Presently, freshwater mussels are considered a threatened faunal group in North America due to the large numbers of endangered, threatened or special concern species. Therefore, management of this fauna should emphasize their long-term sustainability. The objectives of this study were 1) to construct von Bertalanffy growth curves for selected "commercially-most-valuable" species, Fusconaia ebena, Megalonaias nervosa, Amblema plicata and Quadrula quadrula, from five rivers and two reservoirs, 2) to compare species-specific von Bertalanffy growth curves from different rivers and reservoirs, and 3) to provide information on size at onset of sexual maturity in F. ebena and A. plicata. Von Bertalanffy growth curves of four commercially valuable Ambleminae species were used in this study to compare drainage-specific growth. Growth curves for all four species investigated were significantly different between pairs of drainages. Approximate size at onset of sexual maturity was determined for Arkansas F. ebena and A. plicata. Von Bertalanffy growth curves, coupled with life history and population dynamics information, could be useful in assessing and determining national/state harvest sizes and/or drainage specific harvest sizes once annual growth line formation is confirmed.

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