Date of Award


Degree Name

Biological Sciences


College of Science

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Thomas G. Jones

Second Advisor

Mindy Yeager Armstead

Third Advisor

James Spence


Large river studies for freshwater mussel populations and habitat in the Monongahela River within Pennsylvania have been almost non-existent over the past century. Aquatic diversity and water quality have been impaired in the Monongahela River since the Industrial Revolution and early impoundments were constructed to control the river. To date, there have been no thorough mussel population studies conducted on the Pennsylvanian Monongahela River proper since A.E. Ortmann in 1919. The mussel population accounts for this large river system are invaluable accounts of the aquatic condition of the Monongahela River. Mussel populations and habitat within the river have diminished drastically during the 20 th century. Mussel populations and habitat were evaluated using SCUBA reconnaissance at 31 survey sites over 91 river miles. Survey methods included timed SCUBA searches for mussel populations and substrate consistency. Substrate habitat at each site was evaluated using diver reconnaissance and a modified version of the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) Copper Pole Substrate Sampling Protocol. Substrate sampling efficacy using the Copper Pole sampling technique was evaluated using benthic diagrams built using Inverse Distance Weighting with software ArcGIS 9.2. Results of this survey indicated seven (7) mussel species persist within the river with limited abundance compared to the 28 species accounted for in 1919. Habitat assessment techniques evaluated for use in large rivers illustrated an overestimation of substrate size. Paired T-test and Wilcoxon Signed-Rank analysis of Copper Pole Sampling versus diver reconnaissance of substrate size classes expressed significant differences of substrate geometric means. These data are presented to build on the ever growing research and evaluation of techniques used for large river ecosystem monitoring currently being developed in the field of river ecology


Mussel culture - Monongahela River (W. Va. and Pa.)