Native Freshwater Mussel Survey


So our goal today: we are trying to find the
Atlantic Pigtoe. The scientific name is Fusconaia masoni. It’s a freshwater mussel species native to North Carolina. It’s been proposed for federal listing as
threatened. There haven’t been any records found in the
Deep River in this area since about 1993, so we need some more current records to allow
us to include this in critical habitat due to the current interpretation of the Fish
& Wildlife Service rules under the endangered species act. Usually the first tier of mussel survey is
just a qualitative snorkel survey, which means we just do a timed search with snorkelers. Just looking in the water for siphons; we
will also use our hands to feel through the substrate; mussels can burrow down beneath
the surface of the substrate where you might not see them at all, but you’ll feel them,
especially in soft things like sand or muddy banks. You’ll often dig animals out that we never
even saw. So that’s usually our first cut, and then if
we want to get some more complex data sets we might come back and do some more quantitative
study designs where we have grids and quadrats and do some more rigorous methodologies. This is about as big as they get, so that’s
a full-sized adult. So what we’ll do too is after Katherine tags
this, we’ll let it sit here for a little bit and it should stick its foot out pretty quickly. They’re ones that kind of (you just spit at
me!) they try to crawl around pretty fast.

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