Freshwater Mussels

March 10, 2012

Native freshwater mussels are an integral part of river and stream ecosystems.  Mussels remove particulate matter from streams as they siphon the water column to obtain food. Rejected particles and feces provide a food source for invertebrate communities that subsequently support fish populations.  Freshwater mussels also serve as excellent indicators of water quality.  Anthropogenic sources, especially non-point source pollution, threaten native populations of mussels.  Other influences, such as sediment loading, dredging, and clearing riparian vegetation can also alter mussel populations.  Mussel habitat can be lost through channelization and dam construction.  Invasive species, including non-native mussels such as the zebra mussel, can also threaten native species.

Today, many bridge, pipeline, and road rehabilitation projects require freshwater mussel surveys as specified by the Federal Endangered Species Act. These projects typically involve:

  • Mussel habitat delineations
  • Qualitative surveys to determine the presence or absence of native mussels
  • Quantitative surveys to determine mussel diversity and density
  • Mussel translocations and subsequent monitoring programs

EnviroScience has extensive experience performing mussel surveys for federal, state, and local transportation projects.  In addition, EnviroScience has conducted surveys associated with National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit modifications and dredging operations. Our experience with regional regulations and regulators ensures compliance with all project specifications.

Why Use EnviroScience to monitor mussel populations?

  • We have an experienced team of published malacologists and certified divers
  • Our biologists are U.S. Fish and Wildlife approved mussel surveyors
  • EnviroScience’s underwater diving experience facilitates accurate freshwater mussel density estimates
  • We can provide customized project designs for each client
  • We utilize GPS / GIS and ArcPad technology for accurate mapping and monitoring
  • Our scientists have provided expert witness testimony on mussel related issues
  • Our biologists use the latest technology in mussel tagging techniques

Lampsilis fasciola


Ph.D. biologist sorting mussels

Underwater mussel

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