Freshwater mussels are vitally important to both the health of an aquatic ecosystem and the natural history of our lakes and rivers. Due to anthropogenic influences, Illinois’s river mussel stocks have been heavily impacted and species extirpations are now a norm, not an exception. Because of these declines, conservation action plans now call for the controlled propagation, augmentation, and reintroduction of threatened and endangered freshwater mussel species nationwide. Other states have been actively propagating and reintroducing mussels along with their host fish species for nearly 30 years. Presently, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources is establishing the Aquatic Biodiversity Program to explore the possibility of adding the propagation and culture of freshwater mussels to its fish hatchery system’s scope of work. In addition to mussel propagation infrastructure, the development of release methods at potential reintroduction sites is critical to explore and evaluate effective mussel rearing techniques appropriate for the state’s waters. It is important therefore to investigate ways to both increase survival and growth of hatchery-reared juveniles while exposing these mussels to natural conditions within stream locals. A variety of different in situ cages have been recently developed to house laboratory-cultured juveniles within natural river conditions and at release sites with varying degrees of growth and survivorship reported. This study aims to investigate the effects of mussel silos as an intermediate rearing device on three different Illinois mussel species and explore their effectiveness in two central Illinois watersheds. The results from this project will help inform IDNR’s Aquatic Biodiversity Program of the usefulness of this technique to help assess habitat conditions at selected release sites in suitable river segments as well as protect and acclimate juvenile mussels for reintroduction efforts in the future. Invaluable evidence from pilot studies like this one can help guide mussel conservation efforts during the formation of new facilities and state programs.
|Commitee:||Essner, Richard, Williams, Jason|
|School:||Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville|
|School Location:||United States -- Illinois|
|Source:||MAI 81/3(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Conservation biology, Limnology|
|Keywords:||Freshwater mussels, Illinois, Juvenile, Propagation, Reintroduction, Silo|
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