The development and evaluation of a freshwater mussel sampling protocol for a large lowland river
Meador, Jason Ray
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Freshwater mussels are among the most imperiled aquatic species within the southeastern United States. Mangers are faced with the task gathering information via monitoring, and making decisions based on available information about local mussel populations. I gathered data on mussel behavior, demography, distribution, and detection to develop a cost-effective protocol for monitoring freshwater mussel populations within the Altamaha River. Surface abundance, survival, occupancy, and detection varied spatially, temporally, and among species. I then developed sampling stratum within mesohabitats based on empirical data and evaluated the efficacy of several sampling protocols via simulation. Spatial and temporal variation among species emphasize the importance for properly estimating and evaluating habitat based on use and detection and suggest refraining from raw count indices.