April 2011

Archived R5 Science Seminar Series 2011
PowerPoint PDF (111kb)

WHAT: Science in Action Series
WHEN:April 28th, 2011
WHO: Jess Jones, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecological Services Virginia Field Office
TITLE: Die-offs, dead-zones and dams: Challenges and opportunities for restoring freshwater mussels in fragmented riverscapes

ABSTRACT: Mussel die-offs and dead-zones continue to thwart restoration and recovery efforts for mussels in rivers once considered safe-havens for this nationally imperiled faunal group. As population sizes are reduced, natural re-colonization is prevented because river systems in the United States are heavily fragmented by dams. Monitoring of rivers and streams to assess in situ contaminant levels in surface water, interstitial water and sediments, is a critically important science need for biologists responsible for managing mussel populations in complex riverscape environments. Multi-disciplinary investigations employing aquatic toxicologists, hydrologists, landscape and riverscape ecologists and geneticists, and GIS specialists are required to address the spatial and temporal complexity of the problem. Because many mussel species cannot re-colonize previously occupied habitats because dams now prevent dispersal of host fishes, reintroductions are needed to meet recovery plan goals and help reduce risks to species survival. The Clinch-Powell River system of northeast Tennessee and southwest Virginia is among the most ecologically important freshwater systems of North America, but freshwater mussels are in decline throughout most of its extent. Ongoing mussel population restoration efforts highlight the science and management needs in each river, and how this ecosystem can serve as a model for solving such problems throughout the country.

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