Relationship between element concentrations and body size in the Lake Maggiore population of Unio pictorum mancus (Mollusca, Bivalvia)


The study focused on using a fresh-water mussel (Unio pictorum mancus) as a bioindicator of various pollutants, and particularly metals. The elements considered were: Al, As, Ca, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Fe, Mn, Mo, Ni, Pb, V and Zn. This research was carried out at a site where various other studies have been conducted on important characteristics of the same population of Unio. This site is a small bay called "Sabbie d’Oro" located on the south-east coast of Lake Maggiore. Our study involved quantifying the capacity of this mollusc to concentrate large amounts of metal in its body without evident consequences by using detoxification mechanisms. We analysed not only element concentrations, but also their variability (expressed as CV%) in the soft tissues and in the shell, for two main reasons: i) the sampling design should include a preliminary analysis to determine how many specimens is necessary collect to ensure a specified level of precision; ii) the sample variability value may be combined with the value of analytical precision (BCR) to obtain an estimate of the "experimental" precision. In soft tissue, Ca accumulation tended to increase with size, and Al accumulation decreased with size. In shell, Ca and Ni were stored more than in soft tissue, but not proportionally to size. V, Cr and Mo tended to accumulate in the shell progressively over the years, whereas Co and Al are "diluted" during growth, or are absorbed mainly during the juvenile stage. Partition between shell and soft tissue resulted roughly the same in the juvenile and adult stages for the following elements: Fe, Al, Co, As, Pb. The relationships among the various elements were schematized in a hierarchical tree plot.


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freshwater mussel, metals, shell size, bioindicators
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How to Cite
BEONE GM, CATTANI I, FONTANELLA MC, RAVERA O. Relationship between element concentrations and body size in the Lake Maggiore population of Unio pictorum mancus (Mollusca, Bivalvia). jlimnol [Internet]. 1Aug.2011 [cited 3Apr.2020];70(2):283-92. Available from:

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