Feasibility study for restoration of freshwater mussels (villosa iris and lampsilis fasciola) into the upper Oconaluftee River in North Carolina

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Rachel Elizabeth Finigan (Creator)
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site: http://library.wcu.edu/
Thomas Martin

Abstract: Anthropogenic influences have contributed to the decline of many freshwater mussel species, with many listed as endangered, threatened, or of special concern. Suitable water quality, proper substrate habitat, and the presence of fish hosts are needed for mussel survival. Freshwater mussels have not previously been recorded in the Oconaluftee River in North Carolina upstream of the Bryson Dam despite suitable water quality, the presence of proper fish hosts, and the historically rich mussel fauna of the Little Tennessee River drainage. Two species of freshwater mussel, Lampsilis fasciola and Villosa iris, were placed in enclosures at three locations along the Upper Oconaluftee River. Growth and survival were monitored over the course of a growing season (March through November) to determine if the Oconaluftee River is suitable for restoration of these species. Throughout the experiment, four L. fasciola died, all V. iris survived, and both species grew at all three sites. Mussels grew the most and had the best survival at the farthest downstream site, which had the highest temperature and specific conductivity. Despite this difference both species flourished at all sites, suggesting the Upper Oconaluftee River is an ideal location for introduction of L. fasciola and V. iris and the water conditions associated with the river can be used as a reference for future restoration projects. As a secondary study, three tag types (i.e. Hallprint shellfish tags, laser etching, and queen bee tags) were evaluated to determine long term legibility. Hallprint shellfish tags were the only tag to remain readable throughout experiment, closely followed by the queen bee tags, indicating laser tags were the least effective.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2019
conservation, freshwater mussels, Lampsilis fasciola, restoration, Villosa iris
Freshwater mussels -- North Carolina -- Oconaluftee River
Animal introduction -- North Carolina -- Oconaluftee River

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