Examination of the Environmental Health of an Impacted Watershed using Freshwater Mussels as an Indicator Organism
Environmental health of Northeast Ohio watersheds have been at the forefront of local conservation efforts since June 22, 1969, when the Cuyahoga River caught fire due to surface pollution. Numerous studies reflected the declining aquatic diversity, and one of the hardest hit groups appeared to be Ohio’s freshwater mussels. Mussels are a diverse group of aquatic invertebrates that not only are an important part of an aquatic ecosystem, but they are excellent indicators of good water quality. Additionally, mussels rely on clean water for reproduction, as larvae can be more sensitive than adults. Mussel species also vary in their tolerance to pollution, suggesting that community composition can be informative of stream condition. This experiment seeks to use the differences in pollution tolerance between two freshwater mussel species; Lampsilis siliquoidea and Strophitus undulatus, to examine success of regional efforts to restore the impaired Eagle Creek area. Eagle Creek not only provides habitat for numerous species, but also flows into water bodies that provide drinking water for local communities. Both species were collected from multiple sites along the Eagle Creek tributary, crossing areas of varied land use. Analysis of these data should indicate whether or not current conservation efforts are seemingly effective, or if stronger measures need to be enacted to repair the environmental health. Although the number of specimens found indicate positive change, the decline in diversity in the middle portions of the watershed indicate some cause for concern.
Orefice, Paul; Krebs, Bob Ph.D.; and Begley, Matthew T., "Examination of the Environmental Health of an Impacted Watershed using Freshwater Mussels as an Indicator Organism" (2013). Undergraduate Research Posters 2013. 30.