More than 2/3 of the freshwater mussel types in NC are threatened if not endangered. This statement may be slightly misleading since the overwhelming majority of the NC mussel population is of the species Elliptio complanata. Mussels provide a natural water filter system and it’s because of this that they are particularly vulnerable to contaminants in the water. Because mussels are vulnerable to water contamination, the extent of their presence is an indicator of water quality. Their natural water filtering system is also helpful in maintaining water quality.
This research project is significant since it will provide the information needed to determine if additional steps should be taken in the construction and maintenance of crossing structures to minimize their impact on mussel populations.
The main objectives of the research project are:
- To determine the distribution of freshwater mussel species above and below crossing structures.
- To quantify the abundance of freshwater mussel species.
- To measure the affect of the crossing structures on mussel distribution and abundance.
- To identify specific attributes about road crossing structures that may be altering the distribution and/or abundance of freshwater mussels.