Mussel community assessment tool for the Upper Mississippi River system

Freshwater Mollusk Biology and Conservation
By: , and 



Upper Mississippi River (UMR) resource managers need a quantitative means of evaluating the health of mussel assemblages to measure effects of management and regulatory actions, assess restoration techniques, and inform regulatory tasks. Our objective was to create a mussel community assessment tool (MCAT), consisting of a suite of metrics and scoring criteria, to consistently compare the relative health of UMR mussel assemblages. We developed an initial MCAT using quantitative data from 25 sites and 10 metrics. Metrics fell in five broad groups: conservation status and environmental sensitivity, taxonomic composition, population processes, abundance, and diversity. Metric scoring categories were based on quartile analysis: 25% scoring as good, 50% scoring as fair, and 25% scoring as poor. Scores were meant to facilitate establishing management priorities and mitigation options for the conservation of mussels. Scoring categories assumed that a healthy mussel assemblage consists of species with a variety of reproductive and life-history strategies, a low percentage of tolerant species, and a high percentage of sensitive species; shows evidence of adequate recruitment, a variety of age classes, and low mortality; and has high abundance, species richness, and species and tribe evenness. Metrics were validated using a modified Delphi technique. MCAT metrics generally reflected the professional opinions of UMR resource managers and provided a consistent evaluation technique with uniform definitions that managers could use to evaluate mussel assemblages. Additional data sets scored a priori by UMR resource managers were used to further validate metrics, resulting in data from 33 sites spanning over 980 km of the UMR. Initial and revised MCAT scores were similar, indicating that data represent the range of mussel assemblages in the UMR. Mussel assemblages could be evaluated using individual metrics or a composite score to suit management purposes. With additional data, metrics could be calibrated on a local scale or applied to other river systems.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Mussel community assessment tool for the Upper Mississippi River system
Series title Freshwater Mollusk Biology and Conservation
DOI 10.31931/fmbc.v23i2.2020.109-123
Volume 23
Issue 2
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher BioOne
Contributing office(s) Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center
Description 15 p.
First page 109
Last page 123
Country United States
State Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Wisconsin
Other Geospatial Upper Mississippi River
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details