Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Massachusetts
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Massachusetts Project

At-Risk Species Conservation in the Connecticut River

June 2022 - August 2024


Participating Agencies

  • US Fish and Wildlife Service

We are investigating ecology and conservation of anadromous river herring and freshwater mussels in the Connecticut River. There are two main components of the project:
1) Determine which species of freshwater mussels are using migratory fishes (blueback herring, alewife, American shad, striped bass) as hosts in the Connecticut River. Approaches will include examining temporal and spatial patterns in mussel glochidia infestation, using genetic or morphologic techniques to identify mussel species and develop an identification key, assessing ecological and anthropogenic (e.g. fish passage) ramifications of results, evaluating results in light of emerging benthic habitat and species distribution information, and determining conservation and management implications.
2) Develop a standardized approach for sub-sampling aged fish to re-examine scales and determine individual spawning history, and, using the standardized approach, examine existing scale samples (2013-2021) to assess the distribution of annual spawning history and glochidia infestation of the Connecticut River blueback herring population.
An understanding of how freshwater mussels use anadromous fish species in this large river will inform conservation and restoration of at-risk freshwater mussel species and river herring.

Presentations Presentation Date
Stephens, J., A. Roy, A. Jordaan, D. Perkins, and K. Sprankle. 2024. Investigating the size and spawning history of river herring within the Connecticut River over the past decade. Southern New England Chapter of the American Fisheries Society, 9 January 2024, Storrs, CT. January 2024
Stephens, J., A. Roy, A. Jordaan, D. Perkins, and K. Sprankle. 2024. Investigating the host role of returning river herring as hosts for freshwater mussels in the Connecticut River watershed. Northeast Fish & Wildlife Conference, 21-24 April 2024, Hyannis, MA. April 2024