Abundance and Distribution of Freshwater Mussels in French Creek Pennsylvania

Restricted (Penn State Only)
Clark, Kyle Henry
Graduate Program:
Wildlife and Fisheries Science
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
May 09, 2018
Committee Members:
  • Dr. Jay R. Stauffer Jr. , Thesis Advisor
  • Dr. Elizabeth Boyer , Committee Member
  • Dr. Julian Avery , Committee Member
  • French Creek
  • Unionidae
  • Invasive Species
  • Neogobius melanostomus
  • Abundances
  • Movement
Freshwater mussels are an imperiled group of organisms that are vital to our aquatic ecosystems. Services performed by freshwater mussels, coupled with their use for biomonitoring, make them an invaluable asset. Neogobius melanostomus (Round Goby), a recently introduced invasive species to the French Creek watershed, was once restricted to the watershed of Lake Erie in Pennsylvania. Their propensity to consume Dreissena polymorpha (Zebra mussel) and Dreissena bugensis (Quagga mussel) in their native habitat raises concerns about this recent introduction into the Allegheny watershed. French Creek is home to one of the most diverse assemblages of fishes and mussels in the northeast and the impacts of this recent introduction could be far reaching. The three main objectives of this study were: 1—to gather base line data on mussel distribution and abundances across 8 sites on French Creek. 2— to examine mussel immigration, emigration, and abundances. 3— to examine substrate particle size and host availability as limiting factors of mussel distribution in French Creek. Over the duration of the study, 21 species of mussels were captured over 8 sample sites. The number of species at sites ranged from 0-19 with a mode of 7 species per site. In addition, 66 different known-host and non-host species of fishes and amphibians were collected over the 8 sample sites. The number of known-host species at a site ranged between 22 and 38 with a mode of 22. Initial results from principal component analyses showed no significant difference (p>0.05) in substrate particle size classes by weight among the 8 sample sites. There was a significant difference (p<0.05) in particle size classes by proportion between the Flatts Road sample site and the other 7 sampling sites. Although there was a significant difference in substrate particle size classes at this site, there was no observable pattern between the substrate difference and mussel diversity or abundance. Overall our results suggest that substrate particle size and fish host availability in French Creek are not limiting factors of mussel distribution within the French Creek watershed.