Ashley Smith

MS Student, Conservation Sciences

My interests are in the freshwater mussle fauna of Minnesota. In our state we have 48 species of freshwater mussels, all of which use fish as a host for a parasitic larval stage in their life cycle. Six of these species infect only one fish, the freshwater drum (Aplodinotus grunniens), and are presumably dependent purely on fish movement for dispersal. I will be looking at how population genetic structure of the mussels is influenced by migration and population structure of their host, and how different species vary in their response to host population structure. As unionid mussels are heavily endangered worldwide, my work will provide insight into how important host conservation is to mussel conservation efforts.