It seems I am asked this question daily. The most succinct answer I can provide is
This question is usually loaded . . . associated with another FAQ,
"Why do I have to do a mussel survey?"
Mussels in the Clinch and Powell rivers of SW Virginia and NE Tennessee tend to aggregate in riffles and shoals. Many of these habitats are far from pristine, having water quality and sediment quality issues. Other reaches of these rivers have clear waters and beautiful physical habitat, but a history of human disturbance so severe that fish communties are depressed and mussels are gone. Or at least they were yesterday . . . some mussels can recolonize a site when historical distrubances are mittigated. Survey results can vary greatly by decade.
Federally and state-listed species occupy a fraction of their historic range. Most stream habitats do not support listed species. In fact, many streams do not support mussels at all. Nevertheless, listed species could inhabit your stream of interest.
There is a paucity of data for most watersheds and locales in the United States. And when there is negative information, we often can not rule out the possibility that mussels could be present at such low levels they remain undetected. Only 5-30% of mussels inhabiting a stream are detectable during typical surveys. Many mussels are little brown animals difficult to distinquish from the drab stream bottom they inhabit. Moreover, many populations are low density (< 0.1 per meter square).
If you want to determine if mussels do or do not live here, make sure your survey is sensitive enough to detect low-density populations of cryptic species. We at Daguna Consulting, LLC can help you do that.
To find out more about the services we offer, please call 540-230-1042 or send us an email.
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