Potential of shells of three species of eastern Australian freshwater mussels (Bivalvia: Hyriidae) as environmental proxy archives

D. Herath*, D. E. Jacob, Hugh Jones, Stewart J. Fallon

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)


    Freshwater mussels in Australia are rarely studied for their life history and potential as palaeoclimate proxy archives. Therefore, we studied three freshwater mussel species from the Williams River, Hunter Valley, Australia, namely Alathyria profuga, Cucumerunio novaehollandiae and Hyridella drapeta, to identify their potential as new environmental proxy archives from Australian freshwater bodies. Growth analysis revealed that A. profuga and C. novaehollandiae produce distinctive growth lines, which allow the first identification of age and growth structure of these species. The oxygen isotope ratio in A. profuga shells and high-resolution element concentrations in all three species show cyclic, annual variations. A high correlation between growth rates and the combined winter air temperature and annual rainfall, as well as accurate temperature reconstruction using oxygen isotope values in the shells suggest that A. profuga has good potential as an environmental proxy archive. However, the low correlation observed between the Sr: Ca ratio and temperature limited the usefulness of the Sr: Ca ratio in A. profuga shells as a water temperate proxy. In contrast, growth rates and element ratios of C. novaehollandiae do not indicate a significant relationship with environmental variables, suggesting that this species, together with H. drapeta, is probably not suitable for palaeoclimatic studies.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)255-269
    Number of pages15
    JournalMarine and Freshwater Research
    Issue number2
    Early online date4 Oct 2018
    Publication statusPublished - 2019


    • Alathyria profuga
    • oxygen isotopes
    • Sr: Ca ratio


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