Potential for juvenile freshwater mussels to settle onto riverbeds from field investigation

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Taylor & Francis


Freshwater mussel populations have been declining at an alarming rate around the world. Herein, we investigate whether changing flow conditions, as they affect juvenile freshwater mussel settling, could be a potential causative factor for this decline in the Dan River, North Carolina, USA. We deployed two uplooking velocity sensors on the riverbed between May and November 2019: one where mussels reside and another where they do not. From this data, we calculated shear velocity, which is a measure of the turbulence that acts to lift particles into suspension and acts against particle settling. We determined that a shear velocity less than 0.66 cm/s would be required to settle relatively large and dense juvenile mussels onto the riverbed; however, the lowest shear velocity we measured was 0.9 cm/s. Additionally, we estimated that juvenile freshwater mussels as large as 280-510 µm could always be suspended and not be able to settle onto the riverbed at these two locations. Therefore, the flow during May-November 2019 was high enough to prohibit recruitment of juvenile freshwater mussels at the sensor locations. Furthermore, we have identified that the magnitude of the lowest flows has increased since 2000, which may be exacerbating the decline in freshwater mussels.



Dan River, James spinymussel, juvenile freshwater mussel, Parvaspina collina, sediment transport, settling velocity


Sumaiya, S., Czuba, J. A., Russ, W. T., & Hoch, R. (2024). Potential for juvenile freshwater mussels to settle onto riverbeds from field investigation. Journal of Ecohydraulics, 1–18. https://doi.org/10.1080/24705357.2024.2347228