Mussel species composition in tributaries compared to the river mainstem, and the influence of tributaries on the river mainstem of mussel communities, are poorly understood. This paper aims to understand differences in mussel habitat associations between tributaries and the Neches River mainstem and if the mussel communities are nested in tributaries. During the months June through October in 2016, 28 tributaries and 22 mainstem sites were surveyed in the Neches River using tactile time search. A total of 3,620 individuals were collected, of which 44.5% were collected from tributaries. However, only eight of the 28 tributaries contained mussels, while every mainstem site sampled had mussels. Entrenchment ratio and sinuosity appear to be the variables most correlated with mussel habitat association, indicating that tributary complexity positively influences mussel populations and abundances. Mussel communities were found to be significantly nested, and when combined with habitat associations, species that are habitat specialists are subsets of habitat generalists.

Date of publication

Spring 4-25-2017

Document Type




Persistent identifier


Committee members

Lance Williams, Ph.D., Neil Ford, Ph.D., Kate Hertweck, Ph.D., Marsha Williams, MS


Master of Science in Biology

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Biology Commons