Using United States Geological Survey stream gages to predict flow and temperature conditions to maintain freshwater mussel habitat

River Research and Applications
By: , and 

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Abstract

Habitat conditions necessary to support freshwater mussels can be difficult to characterize and predict, particularly for rare or endangered species such as the federally endangered dwarf wedgemussel, Alasmidonta heterodon. In this study, we evaluate flow and temperature conditions in three areas of the mainstem Delaware River known to consistently support Aheterodon, and we develop predictive models using the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) stream gages and thermal stations in order to identify conditions under which habitat alteration could threaten the species. Flow and temperature prediction models based on nearby existing USGS gage and thermal stations were predictive for all three sites. Both discharge prediction and water depth profile models indicate one location (Site 3) was the most vulnerable to low‐flow conditions as it requires the highest discharge rate (26.3 cms) at the USGS Callicoon gage to maintain both the full wetted perimeter (Pfull) and minimal wetted perimeter (Pmin) and prevent occlusion of areas that contain Aheterodon. Flow management targets aimed at protecting Site 3 should also protect Sites 1 and 2. Although analyses indicated significant benthic habitat available in all three sites even under low discharge rates, specific mussel locations could be vulnerable to dewatering and thermal stress if only Pmin values were maintained. Results indicate the magnitude of site temperature deviations from thermal stations varied by site and river temperature. In general, our results suggest that existing temperature and stream gage infrastructure may be used predictively to evaluate the effects of different flow targets on mainstem Delaware River Aheterodon habitat.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Using United States Geological Survey stream gages to predict flow and temperature conditions to maintain freshwater mussel habitat
Series title River Research and Applications
DOI 10.1002/rra.3326
Volume 34
Issue 8
Year Published 2018
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Leetown Science Center
Description 15 p.
First page 977
Last page 992
Country United States
Other Geospatial Delaware River