Friday, October 10, 2014

Portugal and HCMR collaborate on freshwater mussel research


Expedition team members Ronaldo Sousa, Amilcar Teixeira, Ioannis Karaouzas (HCMR), Manuel Lopez-Lima, and Simone Varandas


 October 2014 HCMR fieldwork with the Portuguese team 

We had a wonderful collaboration with a Portuguese team of specialists working on the biogeography, taxonomy and conservation science of freshwater bivalves, usually called freshwater mussels. These animals are really scarce since they have specialized ecological requirements and are vulnerable to river and lake degradation (habitat disturbance, dessication, pollution). They are really important biogeographical indicators. Scientific work on these bivalves in Greece has really lagged behind and important gaps exist - we don't even know the species' taxonomically valid names. So a phylogeography and systematic distributional survey is imperative. I share some snapshots from our recent fieldwork with Europe's top freshwater mussel specialists and thank them for all they have taught us. Thanks to Manuel Lopez-Lima, Ronaldo Sousa, Amilcar Teixeira, and Simone Varandas. Ioannis Karaouzas from HCMR also shares in this fascinating research project.

Organizations collaborating with HCMR scientists in this research include include the following:
  • CIIMAR/CIMAR - Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental Research, University of Porto, Rua dos Bragas 289, 4050-123 Porto, Portugal.
  • CITAB-UTAD - Centre for Research and Technology of Agro-Environment and Biological Sciences, University of Trasos-Montes and Alto Douro, Apartado 1013, 5001-811 Vila Real, Portugal.
  • CIMO-ESA-IPB - Mountain Research Centre, School of Agriculture, Polytechnic Institute of Bragança, Campus de Santa Apolónia, Apartado 1172, 5301-854 Bragança, Portugal.
  • CBMA - Centre of Molecular and Environmental Biology, University of Minho, Campus de Gualtar, 4710-057 Braga, Portugal. 


Serious mud work in the canal waters of former Lake Kopais in Beotia Central Greece. Fantastic mussel find here!
Expedition team processing mussels near Aliartos town on the Kifissos basin (former Lake Kopais). 
Incredibly large Anadonta mussels in the Beotian Kifissos basin.
Open-air lab at Lake Yliki (Photograph by Ioannis Karaouzas).
The inside of a local Anadonta mussel. This specimen is sacrificed in order to collect the shell. 

Lake Beletsi - last year there were mussels here - this year, only a single living specimen was found!
Mussels from Beletsi Lake on Mount Parnitha. Probably introduced with fishes from the Kifissos Basin. 
The team explores "Secret Lake". Permission was granted to enter the reservoir after a discussion with the local Guards: thanks!
Secrete Lake is definitely one of the most beautiful landscapes in Attika. This is only 25 km from Athens!
We found no mussels at Secret Lake; so we decided to walk along the shore.
These are huge Oriental Planes besides a stream near Secret Lake. Thanks nature.
Unusually high autumn water levels at Secret Lake. Yes I forgot my snorkeling gear again!
Taking a genetic sample - a small part of the "foot" and gonad.
The team processed about 25 mussels in less than an hour; nearly all returned back alive -only a tiny piece of "foot" missing.

The Beotian Kifissos entering Lake Yliki, a rich environment for rare bivalves and fish (Photo: I. Karaouzas)

Lake Yliki in Beotia, Eastern Central Greece. Its fauna includes several endemics and rarities distinctive of the Western Aegean Ecoregion.

Manuel looks out across Lake Yliki. A unique lake-scape with a tranquility reminiscent of the Aegean islands. 
















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