A Review of the Interactions between Catfishes and Freshwater Mollusks in North America
Jeremy S. Tiemann, Stephen E. McMurray, M. Christopher Barnhart, and G. Thomas Watters
Abstract.—Catfishes are important in freshwater ecosystems not only as consumers, but also as essential partners in symbiotic relationships with other organisms. Freshwater mollusks are among the many organisms that have interactions with catfishes. For example, ictalurids are hosts for larvae of several native freshwater mussel species. The larvae, which attach briefly to gills or fins of fish to complete their development to the free-living juvenile stage, disperse via upstream and downstream movement of host fish. In turn, freshwater mussels serve as a food source for some catfish species while other catfish species may use spent mussel shells for habitat. Ictalurids also benefit from the conservation status of many freshwater mussel species. Federal and state laws protecting these invertebrates can preserve water quality and habitat and, at times, provide incentives and funding for conservation and restoration of stream and riparian habitats.