Freshwater mussels (Bivalvia, Unionida) fulfil important ecosystem functions and are one of the most threatened freshwater taxa globally. Knowledge of freshwater mussel diversity, distribution and ecology in Peninsular Malaysia is extremely poor, and the conservation status of half of the species presumed to occur in the region has yet to be assessed. We conducted the first comprehensive assessment of Peninsular Malaysia's freshwater mussels based on species presence/absence and environmental data collected from 155 sites spanning all major river catchments and diverse habitat types. Through an integrative morphological-molecular approach we recognised nine native and one widespread non-native species, i.e. Sinanodonta woodiana. Two species, i.e. Pilsbryoconcha compressa and Pseudodon cambodjensis, had not been previously recorded from Malaysia, which is likely a result of morphological misidentifications of historical records. Due to their restriction to single river catchments and declining distributions, Hyriopsis bialata, possibly endemic to Peninsular Malaysia, Ensidens ingallsianus, possibly already extinct in the peninsula, and Rectidens sumatrensis, particularly require conservation attention. Equally, the Pahang, the Perak and the north-western river catchments are of particular conservation value due to the presence of a globally unique freshwater mussel fauna. Statistical relationships of 15 water quality parameters and mussel presence/absence identified acidification and nutrient pollution (eutrophication) as the most important anthropogenic factors threatening freshwater mussel diversity in Peninsular Malaysia. These factors can be linked to atmospheric pollution, deforestation, oil-palm plantations and a lack of functioning waste water treatment, and could be mitigated by establishing riparian buffers and improving waste water treatment for rivers running through agricultural and residential land.
Deforestation, climate change and invasive species constitute three global threats to biodiversity that act synergistically. However, drivers and rates of loss of freshwater biodiversity now and in the future are poorly understood. Here we focus on the potential impacts of global change on freshwater mussels (Order Unionida) in Sundaland (SE Asia), a vulnerable group facing global declines and recognized indicators of overall freshwater biodiversity. We used an ensemble of distribution models to identify habitats potentially suitable for freshwater mussels and their change under a range of climate, deforestation and invasion scenarios. Our data and models revealed that, at present, Sundaland features 47 and 32 Mha of habitat that can be considered environmentally suitable for native and invasive freshwater mussels, respectively. We anticipate that by 2050, the area suitable for palm oil cultivation may expand between 8 and 44 Mha, representing an annual increase of 2-11%. This is expected to result in a 20% decrease in suitable habitat for native mussels, a drop that reaches 30% by 2050 when considering concomitant climate change. In contrast, the habitat potentially suitable for invasive mussels may increase by 44-56% under 2050 future scenarios. Consequently, native mussels may compete for habitat, food resources and fish hosts with invasive mussels across approximately 60% of their suitable range. Our projections can be used to guide future expeditions to monitor the conservation status of freshwater biodiversity, and potentially reveal populations of endemic species on the brink of extinction. Future conservation measures-most importantly the designation of nature reserves-should take into account trends in freshwater biodiversity generally, and particularly species such as freshwater mussels, vital to safeguard fundamental ecosystem services.
Freshwater mussels of the order Unionida are key elements of freshwater habitats and are responsible for important ecological functions and services. Unfortunately, these bivalves are among the most threatened freshwater taxa in the world. However, conservation planning and management are hindered by taxonomic problems and a lack of detailed ecological data. This highlights the urgent need for advances in the areas of systematics and evolutionary relationships within the Unionida. This study presents the most comprehensive phylogeny to date of the larger Unionida family, i.e., the Unionidae. The phylogeny is based on a combined dataset of 1032bp (COI+28S) of 70 species in 46 genera, with 7 of this genera being sequenced for the first time. The resulting phylogeny divided the Unionidae into 6 supported subfamilies and 18 tribes, three of which are here named for the first time (i.e., Chamberlainiini nomen novum, Cristariini nomen novum and Lanceolariini nomen novum). Molecular analyses were complemented by investigations of selected morphological, anatomical and behavioral characters used in traditional phylogenetic studies. No single morphological, anatomical or behavioral character was diagnostic at the subfamily level and few were useful at the tribe level. However, within subfamilies, many tribes can be recognized based on a subset of these characters. The geographical distribution of each of the subfamilies and tribes is also presented. The present study provides important advances in the systematics of these extraordinary taxa with implications for future ecological and conservation studies.
Two Unionida (freshwater mussel) families are present in the Northern Hemisphere; the Margaritiferidae, representing the most threatened of unionid families, and the Unionidae, which include several genera of unresolved taxonomic placement. The recent reassignment of the poorly studied Lamprotula rochechouartii from the Unionidae to the Margaritiferidae motivated a new search for other potential species of margaritiferids from members of Gibbosula and Lamprotula. Based on molecular and morphological analyses conducted on newly collected specimens from Vietnam, we here assign Gibbosula crassa to the Margaritiferidae. Additionally, we reanalyzed all diagnostic characteristics of the Margaritiferidae and examined museum specimens of Lamprotula and Gibbosula. As a result, two additional species are also moved to the Margaritiferidae, i.e. Gibbosula confragosa and Gibbosula polysticta. We performed a robust five marker phylogeny with all available margaritiferid species and discuss the taxonomy within the family. The present phylogeny reveals the division of Margaritiferidae into four ancient clades with distinct morphological, biogeographical and ecological characteristics that justify the division of the Margaritiferidae into two subfamilies (Gibbosulinae and Margaritiferinae) and four genera (Gibbosula, Cumberlandia, Margaritifera, and Pseudunio). The systematics of the Margaritiferidae family is re-defined as well as their distribution, potential origin and main biogeographic patterns.
Using a new fossil-calibrated mitogenome-based approach, we identified macroevolutionary shifts in mitochondrial gene order among the freshwater mussels (Unionoidea). We show that the early Mesozoic divergence of the two Unionoidea clades, Margaritiferidae and Unionidae, was accompanied by a synchronous split in the gene arrangement in the female mitogenome (i.e., gene orders MF1 and UF1). Our results suggest that this macroevolutionary jump was completed within a relatively short time interval (95% HPD 201-226 Ma) that coincided with the Triassic-Jurassic mass extinction. Both gene orders have persisted within these clades for ~200 Ma. The monophyly of the so-called "problematic" Gonideinae taxa was supported by all the inferred phylogenies in this study using, for the first time, the M- and F-type mitogenomes either singly or combined. Within Gonideinae, two additional splits in the gene order (UF1 to UF2, UF2 to UF3) occurred in the Mesozoic and have persisted for ~150 and ~100 Ma, respectively. Finally, the mitogenomic results suggest ancient connections between freshwater basins of East Asia and Europe near the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary, probably via a continuous paleo-river system or along the Tethys coastal line, which are well supported by at least three independent but almost synchronous divergence events.