Title page for ETD etd-02262006-212619

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Guyot, Jennifer Ann
URN etd-02262006-212619
Title Restoration of the endangered Cumberland elktoe (Alasmidonta atropurpurea) and Cumberland bean (Villosa trabalis) (Bivalvia: Unionidae) in the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Tennessee and Kentucky
Degree Master of Science
Department Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Neves, Richard J. Committee Chair
Angermeier, Paul L. Committee Member
Craig, Steven R. Committee Member
  • threat assessment
  • freshwater mussels
  • host fish
  • Cumberland elktoe
  • Cumberland bean
  • Big South Fork National River and Recreation Ar
  • juvenile culture
Date of Defense 2005-12-16
Availability unrestricted
The Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area (NRRA), located in Tennessee and Kentucky, has prepared a management plan to include restoration of its mussel fauna to historic levels. Restoration activities include propagation of juvenile mussels and relocation of adults to suitable sites in the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River (BSF) and its tributaries. This study was conducted to identify host fish for Cumberland elktoe (Alasmidonta atropurpurea) and Cumberland bean (Villosa trabalis), to determine suitable juvenile culture conditions for Epioblasma brevidens and V. trabalis, and to locate sites important to future mussel restoration efforts in the NRRA.

Host fish identifications and propagation techniques were determined for two of the endangered species in the NRRA, Cumberland elktoe (Alasmidonta atropurpurea) and Cumberland bean (Villosa trabalis). Of seven host species tested, banded sculpin (Cottus carolinae) was the most suitable host fish for propagation of A. atropurpurea. Of five host species tested, fantail darters (Etheostoma flabellare) were the most suitable host fish for propagation of V. trabalis. Culture techniques to raise juvenile mussels in captivity were evaluated, using newly metamorphosed juveniles of V. trabalis and E. brevidens in recirculating systems. No differences in juvenile growth or survival were detected among substrates used (fine sediment, coarse sand, and a mixture of the two). Recirculating system design seemed to affect juvenile growth and survival; however, variable condition of juveniles also seemed to affect results, making it difficult to determine effects from trial treatments.

Finally, an assessment of potential sites in the NRRA for restoration activities was conducted using spatial analysis in a geographic information system (GIS) and several measures of conservation value. Mussel restoration sites were assessed for potential threats from adjacent land uses that may negatively affect mussels, including coal mines, oil and gas wells, transportation corridors, agriculture and urban development. Sites were also evaluated on their current conservation value to designate which sites are most important to long-term maintenance of mussel fauna. Several sites were identified that contain relatively few land-use threats, and are appropriate for mussel restoration activities, including Big Island, Station Camp Creek, and Parchcorn Creek sites on the mainstem BSF, as well as sites on Clear Fork and North White Oak Creek. Many of these sites also have high conservation values. Other sites had relatively high land-use threats that need to be addressed before restoration activities take place. Such sites include Leatherwood Ford, Rough Shoals Branch, Blue Heron, and Yamacraw on the mainstem BSF. The dominant threat to most sites came from transportation corridors, whereas some sites in southern and eastern portions of the watershed also were threatened by coal mines, and oil and gas wells.

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