Of the 302 freshwater mussel species in North America, 70% are listed as imperiled or threatened. The increase in habitat impairments and reduction in mussel fauna has increased interest in relocations in regard to the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The most common time to conduct mussel relocations is July to September, when it is speculated that the least amount of reproductive stress will occur and the metabolic rate is high enough for reburying. Because summer is the most common time to relocate threatened or endangered freshwater mussels, the effects of extreme temperature differences (27°C to over 49°C) on burrowing behaviors, a crucial component of their sedentary lifestyle, merits examination. Relocations have also been performed in winter (thought to be a dormant season) and research on burrowing behavior in extreme cold as well as heat is relevant to their conservation. I investigated burrowing behaviors of different mussel species with varying shell morphologies (e.g., smooth or rough) and extreme high and low temperatures (summer and winter). I tested relocation potential in summer versus winter, with the results that species are more likely to reburrow in the summer than in the winter, but species have more rapid and wider ranging movement in winter.

Date of publication

Fall 1-26-2015

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