Validation of annual growth rings in freshwater mussel shells using cross dating .Can
We examined the usefulness of dendrochronological cross-dating methods for studying long-term, interannual growth patterns in freshwater mussels, including validation of annual shell ring formation. Using 13 species from three rivers, we measured increment widths between putative annual rings on shell thin sections and then removed age-related variation by standardizing measurement time series using cubic splines. Initially, cross dating was a valuable quality control technique allowing us to correct interpretive and measurement errors in 16% of specimens. For all species, growth varied among years but was highly synchronous among individuals. Standardized measurement time series of 94% of individuals were significantly correlated with species master chronologies, and mean interseries correlations ranged from 0.37 to 0.96. Growth was also synchronous among species, even from different rivers, and growth was negatively correlated with mean annual streamflow for most species except Quadrula pustulosa from a regulated dam tailrace. Highly synchronous growth and the strong relationship to streamflow showed that large-scale environmental signals generated non-age-related variation in mussel growth giving strong support for annual formation of the growth increments we measured. Cross dating can be a valuable technique for studying freshwater mussel growth providing quality control, validation of annual rings, and reconstruction of long-term growth histories.