The dam reservoirs of the Upper Rhone were drained every three years until 2003, and the water level of the Villebois reservoir was lowered by 1.5 m. This resulted in considerable drying of its littoral habitats and the disappearance of the abundant macro-invertebrates that live in them. This study investigates the response to this drying disturbance of bivalve populations and especially of the life history traits of the two potamic species, Pisidium moitessierianum and Pisidium supinum. The low density of these bivalves observed during the months following the drying of May 2003 until spring 2004 shows that the contribution of drift in population recovery was very limited during this period. Due to the faster turnover of its cohorts and a higher increase in litter size in 2004, P. moitessierianum once again dominated bivalve communities from 2005 onwards. In the Villebois reservoir recovery of bivalve communities in terms of structure and density was total three years after the drying of 2003. Observations suggest an increase in litter size and continuous recruitment: the reproductive strategy adopted by these bivalves represent response to the fall in numbers on the one hand, and to considerable magnitudes of temperature and flow rates on the other hand, enabling the rapid adjustment of populations to drying disturbance and variations in environmental conditions. Taking into account the response of bivalve populations to this event, its effects are comparable to those of a supra-seasonal drought (Lake, 2003, Freshw. Biol., 48, 1161–1172).