Title page for ETD etd-04112005-132344

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Petty, Melissa A.
URN etd-04112005-132344
Title Distribution, Genetic Characterization, and Life History of the James spinymussel, Pleurobema collina (Bivalvia: Unionidae), in Virginia and North Carolina
Degree Master of Science
Department Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Neves, Richard J. Committee Chair
Angermeier, Paul L. Committee Member
Hallerman, Eric M. Committee Member
  • freshwater mussels
  • endangered species
  • survey
  • probability of detection
  • management units
Date of Defense 2005-02-11
Availability unrestricted
Three spined, mussel species occur in the United States along the Atlantic slope; James spinymussel (Pleurobema collina), Tar spinymussel (Elliptio steinstansana), and Altamaha spinymussel (E. spinosa). The James spinymussel was listed as endangered in 1988, and was until recently considered to be endemic to the James River basin (Clarke and Neves 1984; USFWS 1990). Biologists with the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) discovered spinymussel populations in the Dan and Mayo rivers in NC in 2000 and 2001, respectively. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) tentatively identified this species as Pleurobema collina.

My project proposed by the Virginia Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit to the USFWS and the Virginia Transportation Research Council, determined where P. collina resides in VA and what the extent of its range is within the state. An informal preliminary survey design for P. collina was used during the summer of 2002 and simple random sampling was deployed in 2003-2004 surveys to provide a good basis for comparison to gauge the efficiency of the informal sampling design.

In 2002, a total of 116 person-hours were spent surveying 39 localities on the Mayo, Dan, and Smith rivers. A total of 96 P. collina was observed in the South Fork of the Mayo River, Patrick and Henry counties, VA. A documented range of 24 rkm was established in the South Fork Mayo River. During the summers of 2003 and 2004, a total of 228 person-hours were spent surveying 38 equal-area river reaches (10, 000 m2) on the mainstems of the Dan, Smith, South Mayo, and Banister rivers. No specimens of P. collina (live or relic shells) were detected. A simple random sampling approach was designed to be easy, relatively quick and cost effective, applicable to most rivers, and to provide actual numbers for comparison. Negative results were only reported after 6 person-hours of searching within each randomly selected, equal-area river reach had been expended. P. collina was declared absent from the VA random sites surveyed in 2003-2004 with a confidence of ~90%.

A genetic characterization of four extant populations of P. collina was conducted to assess its taxonomic affinity and to resolve conservation issues related to recovery planning and management actions. The populations were examined for phenotypic variation, and were characterized phylogenetically using DNA sequences. A comprehensive analysis was performed for both separate and combined mitochondrial (357 bp of cytochrome-b, 916 bp of ND-1) and nuclear (502 bp of ITS-1) DNA sequences. Based on comprehensive molecular, morphological, and life history data, populations of P. collina sampled from the Dan River sub-drainage do not warrant separate species designation from P. collina sampled from the James River drainage.

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