Date of Graduation

Spring 2018


Master of Science in Biology



Committee Chair

M. Chris Barnhart


drum specialist, host, adaptations, metamorphosis percent, variability

Subject Categories



The Freshwater Drum, Aplodinotus grunniens, serves as fish host to multiple mussel species. Some mussel species are “drum specialists” in the sense that Freshwater Drum is apparently the only host that they utilize. Freshwater Drum diet consists partly of mussels, which it crushes with specially adapted pharyngeal teeth. The Freshwater Drum’s habit of feeding on mussels should favor adaptations to use the species as a host. Mussels that use Freshwater Drum as host could adapt to attract the fish. I predicted that many other species will have some ability to use Freshwater Drum as host because of its habit of seeking bivalve prey. I also predicted that species that use Freshwater Drum as their sole host should 1) have high metamorphosis success (%M) and 2) exhibit adaptations to avoid predation while attracting a predaceous host. I investigated the host potential between nine species of freshwater mussel and Freshwater Drum with laboratory host tests. These tests quantified the %M of two mussel species (T. truncata and L. fragilis) that are known to use Freshwater Drum as a host and quantified the %M of two new mussel-host relationships (O. reflexa and L. abrupta). The results show that Freshwater Drum exhibit a very high %M when hosting “drum specialist” mussels with little variability between individual fish; however, when Freshwater Drum host mussels that are not “drum specialists” the %M is much lower and more variable between individual fish.


© Michael S. Martin

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