Freshwater Mussel and Water Quality: a Review of the Effects of Hydrologic and Instream Habitat Alterations

9708 Words 39 Pages
Proceedings of the First Freshwater Mollusk Conservation Society Symposium, 1999, pages 261-274 © 2000 Ohio Biological Survey

Freshwater mussels and water quality: A review of the effects of hydrologic and instream habitat alterations G. Thomas Watters1
Ohio Biological Survey and Aquatic Ecology Laboratory; 1315 Kinnear Road, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43212
ABSTRACT: Hydraulic impacts represent a suite of habitat alterations that, although having different causes, often have similar methods of affecting the mussel fauna. For instance, logging and channelization are very different disturbances, but both generate sediments. These “hydraulic impacts” thus overlap each other to one degree or another. I have attempted to
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Watters (Email:

have become extinct or cannot return.” Despite Neel’s (and others) claims, the evidence that impoundment is detrimental to aquatic life, and most mussels in particular, is overwhelming and indisputable. Even below impoundments benthic diversity in general is reduced (Yeager 1993, 1994). We know that perhaps several dozen mussel species, and numerous more freshwater snails, were driven to extinction wholly or in large part by the construction of dams (Layzer et al. 1993, Lydeard and Mayden 1995, Stansbery 1973). Almost without exception, rivers that have been impounded, have lost or changed their mussel faunas. Examples A. Tennessee River: Isom (1969) reported that the Tennessee River’s mussel diversity had decreased from 100 species to 44, largely because of changes associated with dams. Although caused in part by over-harvesting, the author attributed most of the decline to changes in habitat associated with the dam. Water flow in the impoundment had decreased to the point where silt could accumulate on the river bed, smothering mussels. Coincidentally, silt-tolerant species were expanding their ranges in

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