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|Degree||MS in NRES|
249 Hardin Hall - Section 24
3310 Holdrege St
- Presentation Type: Thesis Defense
- Date: 3/25/2019
The global decline of native freshwater mussels has accelerated conservation projects that preserve and restore populations, but the complex life histories among species challenges biologists in determining the most effective management strategies. This study details the conservation of plain pocketbook, a Tier I threatened mussel species in Nebraska that was artificially propagated and reintroduced into 13 sites from autumn 2016 to summer 2017. The objectives of this study were: 1) determine how handling influences mussels, and 2) evaluate mussel population dynamics following introductions.
We conducted a 12-week laboratory experiment to assess the effects of handling on plain pocketbook growth and survival. We found this species is tolerant of short-term repeated handling and used results to develop a mark-recapture sampling design to assess population dynamics of introduced mussels. We then sampled mussels and habitats seasonally 2017 - 2018 to relate mussel growth and survival to habitat, timing of introduction, and shell size. We found mussels were at heightened risk for mortality during introduction and spring and correlated these time periods to environmental stressors. We used this information to develop a rigorous process for identifying suitable habitats as well as choosing optimal introduction times.
Handling is an anthropogenic stressor for mussels that can be moderated through proper research and techniques. Short-term monitoring studies can provide valuable insight on introduced mussel populations. Implementing best management practices for future introduction projects will enhance the conservation of this imperiled taxon.
- 2019 – Outstanding Fisheries Student awarded by Nebraska Chapter of the American Fisheries Society
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