This project involves an examination of the responses of the Asian clam, Corbula amurensis, to changes in environmental salinity. We are analyzing how clams respond to long-term changes in environmental salinity through acclimation to both constant and fluctuating salinity environments, as well as how they respond to acute changes in salinity following acclimation. Parameters to be measured include salinity tolerance thresholds, metabolic rate, feeding rate, activity of enzymatic proteins involved in ion regulation, osmotic content, and stress response proteins. Results of these studies will allow ecological energetics models to be constructed for these clams throughout the San Francisco Bay watershed, and will help to inform resource managers who develop food web models for the San Francisco Bay. The experiments have been conducted as a component of the Biol 631 Animal Physiology lab course that I teach each year at the Romberg Tiburon Center. Students in the course are full research participants (and thus have an excellent opportunity to learn about research), and this grant provided the funding to buy equipment used to teach that class. Future research on Corbula will involve analysis of field-acclimatization to low and high salinity variability across geographic separation and season.
To catch the clams we have used both dredge and grab methods. Here are some photos of Adam deploying the dredge from the RV Questuary, and then washing the clams away from the mud following collection.
Funded by State of California Departement of Water Resources Interagency Ecological Program (IEP)