Mechanics of glochidial attachment (Mollusca: Bivalvia: Unionidae).

Research paper by Michael A MA Hoggarth, Abbot S AS Gaunt

Indexed on: 01 Oct '88Published on: 01 Oct '88Published in: Journal of Morphology


Glochidia are third-class levers in which the valves form the lever arms and the single adductor muscle produces the force. In this study the lengths of the lever arms and the areas of glochidial valves and adductor muscles were determined for 57 species of unionid glochidia. The position of the adductor muscle relative to the dorsal margin of the larval valve was also determined for each species. From these data and an analysis of the possible configurations of adductor muscle and valve dimensions, we determined that most of the glochidia within the Unionidae emphasize area of sweep during valve adduction. These glochidia possess long resistance arms and short force arms and generally had small-diameter adductor muscles. Other glochidia, however, were found to possess one or all of the following: short resistance arms, long force arms, and large-diameter adductor muscles. It is suggested that these glochidia are adapted for strength of valve adduction and that for these larvae a trade-off exists between strength of valve adduction and acceptable valve gape. Furthermore, this study suggests that the mode of attachment employed by glochidia has played a major role in the development of these bivalve larvae and has produced convergence in valve shape and adductor muscle size. Copyright © 1988 Wiley-Liss, Inc.