Graduate Degree Type
Dr. Eric Snyder
Dr. Mark Luttenton
Freshwater mussels (Order: Unionida) are very important to the function of aquatic ecosystems and are typically indicators of good water quality. They provide a valuable link between the water column and the benthic substrate in which they live and are a valuable food resource for many species of animals. However, most species native to North America are currently threatened with extinction, to the point that more than 70% of native freshwater mussels are listed as either threatened or endangered at the state or federal level. The cause of this decline can be attributed to historical over exploitation, habitat alteration, and the introduction of various invasive species that compete with the mussels and their native fish hosts. Translocation is the term used to describe the intentional movement of freshwater mussels to protect and conserve them from anthropogenic impacts. Translocation, however, is only successful if mussels survive. Several studies have found complete mortality of translocated individuals. In addition, this study examines how differences in habitat and water quality at the recipient sites, when compared to the source site, can affect the overall success of the translocation effort. In order to understand the short-term effects of translocation I collected, tagged, and placed 150 Spikes (Eurynia dilatata) in one of three experimental sites with varying degrees of similarities and differences in habitat and water quality. Translocation success or failure was evaluated using both survival and growth rates relative to the control (source population). After one year the recipient sites had an average increase in total length of 0.45 mm across the three sites while the source site had an average growth rate of 0.53mm. This difference in growth rate was found to be non-significant (p>0.05). From this I conclude that translocation had no effect on mussel growth rates. However, one of the translocation sites experienced high (>50%) mortality over the duration of the experiment while the three other sites, including the source site, experienced low mortality (
Arnold, Joshua D., "Assessing the Short-Term Effects of Translocation on Freshwater Mussels: Is Habitat or Water Quality More Important?" (2021). Masters Theses. 1021.