Date of Award

2018

Degree Name

Biological Sciences

College

College of Science

Type of Degree

M.S.

Document Type

Thesis

First Advisor

Dr. Thomas Jones, Committee Chairperson

Second Advisor

Dr. Shane Welch

Third Advisor

Dr. Ann Axel

Fourth Advisor

Mr. Jeffrey Thomas

Abstract

The Ohio River was historically a free-flowing system with diverse fish and freshwater mussel communities. Heavy industrialization, erosion from deforestation, and wide scale damming during the early-mid 20th century decimated riverine life. While mussel declines are well documented in the United States, in big river systems, freshwater mussel populations are poorly understudied. This thesis project mapped the mussel communities and site-specific sediments of the Greenup pool in the Ohio River for comparison to 2016 nighttime electrofishing data, provided by ORSANCO. Qualitative SCUBA surveys were performed at 18 randomly selected sites and two fixed sites between July and September. Each site consisted of six, 100 meter survey transects. Sediment was recorded in ten meter sections along each transect. I hypothesized that high fish-host richness and abundances will correlate with strong mussel communities. A secondary goal of my project was to identify areas which may warrent special protection due to the presence of federally endangered species. A total of 3,747 live mussels were collected from 23 species, including nine federally endangered Sheepnose (Plethobasus cyphyus). Using negative binomial regressions, fish host richness and abundances were not reliable predictors of freshwater mussel communities. The only exception was Aplodinotus grunniens, which acts as an inverse predictor of Ellipsaria lineolata populations. While there are few explanations to the broad spatial distribution of fish communities, freshwater mussel populations may be concentrated in the upper section of the pool due to heavy historical pollution and disturbances in the middle and lower Greenup pool.

Subject(s)

Ohio River -- Ecology.

Freshwater mussels - Effect of habitat modification on.

COinS