Date of Award

Spring 4-13-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Biology


Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences

First Advisor

Krebs, Robert

Second Advisor

Wolin, Julie

Third Advisor

Kimosop, Peter

Subject Headings

Aquatic Sciences, Biology, Ecology


Mussels are considered one indicator of good water quality in rivers, but over the past 20 years mussel populations have continued to decline, while water quality improves. According to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA), water quality in the Cuyahoga River is now within safe levels for all parameters. However, what are safe levels for humans may not be safe for mussels. An analysis of freshwater mussel populations in two similarly sized watersheds, the Upper Cuyahoga River and Tinkers Creek was conducted. Correlations of mussel abundance and diversity were assessed by multivariate GIS/remote sensing tools to contrast water flow rates, effects of riparian zone types, shifts in lands use, and soil types within and between these two watersheds. The Upper Cuyahoga River shows a continued decline in mussel populations from 2016 to present, and analysis shows there was no significant effect from land use. In Tinkers Creek mussel populations changed from mostly Pyganodon grandis, a slow water species, to a majority Fusconaia flava and Lasmigona costata, species associated with flowing streams. Both regions have putatively benefitted from water quality improvements and park land acquisition through collaborations among Summit, Geauga, and Portage counties. The declines in the Upper Cuyahoga could be due to the regulation of the water flow, and while Tinkers Creeks flow is unregulated, mussel populations changed from pond species to river species.

Included in

Biology Commons