The Wavy-rayed Lampmussel (Lampsilis fasciola) and Spike (Eurynia dilatata) are state Species of Special Concern and Rainbow Mussels (Villosa iris) are Threatened in North Carolina. Once common in their native range, which reached across most of the Eastern United States, agricultural pollution, siltation, and river impoundments have led to sharp declines in abundance of these invertebrates. A previous feasibility study confirmed that L. fasciola and V. iris could survive and grow in enclosures in the Oconaluftee River within the Qualla Boundary, and therefore concluded that these species would be good candidates for restoration in that system. This study pursued the next step in the efforts to restore populations of these organisms by introducing individuals of L. fasciola, V. iris, and E. dilatata, back into the Oconaluftee. Juveniles of V. iris and L. fasciola were obtained from the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission’s Conservation Aquaculture Center in Marion, NC; these juveniles were raised from the glochidia of adults collected from the Little Tennessee River, where some populations of both species persist. Adult E. dilatata were collected directly from the Little Tennessee River, as this species is not currently cultured under hatchery conditions. The individuals of all three species were marked and stocked at four study sites chosen based on adequate substrate types for mussel survival. Adequate substrate included small cobbles, some fines and sand, but low siltation. Sampling took place over the course of one growing season (May to October 2019) to record survival and growth. Additionally, measurements of the remaining silo populations from the previous feasibility study were continued, as well as monitoring of an additional three new silos at each site, to allow comparison of growth in free-living mussels and those in the enclosures. We concluded that the free-living mussels could survive, and that they showed significantly greater growth than those held in enclosures. All three species had near-perfect survival when stocked into the substrate or placed in silos, with the exception of those in silos lost during storm events. Additionally, we detected positive growth for all species, which differed among sites with individuals growing less at upstream sites for both L. fasciola and V. iris. Furthermore, free-living individuals showed significantly lower valve damage than those held in silos.
|Advisor:||Martin, Thomas H.|
|Commitee:||LaVoie, Michael J., Kandl, Karen L.|
|School:||Western Carolina University|
|School Location:||United States -- North Carolina|
|Source:||MAI 82/1(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Ecology, Aquatic sciences, Biology|
|Keywords:||Aquatic ecology, Freshwater mussels, Malacology, Restoration, Unionida, Oconaluftee River Basin, Cherokee, NC, North Carolina|
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