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The distribution and conservation of threatened Sphaeriidae on British grazing marshland

Watson, Alisa M. and Ormerod, Stephen James 2005. The distribution and conservation of threatened Sphaeriidae on British grazing marshland. Biodiversity and Conservation 14 (9) , pp. 2207-2220. 10.1007/s10531-004-4670-4

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Freshwater sphaeriid bivalves are poorly known ecologically, particularly uncommon species such as Pisidium pseudosphaerium (UK RDB (Red Data Book) staus = ‘rare’). In the UK, this species occupies grazing marsh where conservation opportunities might be shared with other threatened molluscs. We surveyed sphaeriids including P. pseudosphaerium and snails in 106 drainage ditches in SE England in 1999. P. pseudosphaerium occupied over half the ditches surveyed, at slightly elevated BOD (6 ± 7 mg l−1 sd) but reduced calcium (64 ± 31 mg l−1) and nitrate (0.5 ± 1.2 mg l−1). As part of a sphaeriid assemblage comprising Sphaerium corneum, Musculium lacustre and Pisidium obtusale (=Assemblage 1), P. pseudosphaerium occurred in ditches with floating vegetation and abundant snails of conservation importance, co-occurring significantly with either Valvata macrostoma (RDB ‘vulnerable’) or Anisus vorticulus (RDB: ‘vulnerable’). A more diverse sphaeriid assemblage (=Assemblage 2) included species common in wider, deeper ditches with open water. We suggest that traditional ditch management can support both rare and representative snails and bivalves on grazing marsh. Quasi-traditional and rotational ditch clearance will favour common sphaeriids and pioneer snails during early succession; P. pseudosphaerium, V. macrostoma, A. vorticulus during mid-succession; and the snail Segmentina nitida (RDB: ‘Endangered’) in late successional ditches. In common with threatened snails, P. pseudosphaerium will also benefit from reduced eutrophication. We recommend that P. pseudosphaerium retain RDB status to ensure protection and to emphasise the need for improved ecological information.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
ISSN: 0960-3115
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 06:37

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