During the past century freshwater mussel populations have declined precipitously throughout North America. Much of this loss has resulted from the construction of dams. In the Cumberland River system, 23% (22 species) of the historic mussel fauna is extinct or listed as endangered. Several additional species have either been extirpated from the Cumberland River or exist only in small, non-reproducing populations. Mussels of headwater streams have been severely affected by coal mining and poor land use practices. An intensive survey was conducted in the Caney Fork River, a major tributary to the Cumberland River, to determine the historic and extant mussel fauna. The results indicate that at least 37 species of mussels have been extirpated from the Caney Fork River, mainly as a result of the construction and operation of the Center Hill Dam. Among the species extirpated, two are now extinct, five are endangered and five are candidates for listing as threatened or endangered. Effects associated with this dam include the inundation of 102 km of riverine habitat, the discharge of hypolimnetic water (which limits mussel reproduction) and an alternating pattern of stream bed scouring and dewatering. The recognition of mussel life history requirements during preconstruction could have reduced many of these effects.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Mussels: The forgotten fauna of regulated rivers. A case study of the Caney Fork River|
|Series title||Regulated Rivers: Research & Management|
|Other Geospatial||Caney Fork River|