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

Missouri Project

Development of standardized and validated methods for sampling freshwater mussels in Missouri: Evaluation of factors influencing capture probability, occupancy estimation, and community and population metrics using visual survey approaches.

July 2013 - June 2016


Participating Agencies

  • Missouri Department of Conservation

The Southeastern United States is known worldwide as a hotspot for freshwater aquatic diversity, including native freshwater mussels that fill valuable ecological niches in stream and river ecosystems. Missouri, in particular, is steward to a particularly diverse mussel fauna, with 69 species within state boundaries, including 8 Ozark endemic species, 10 federally endangered or threatened species, and 29 species of conservation concern. Despite their status as the most endangered taxonomic group in the state, their ecology, distribution, and population numbers remain poorly understood. Further, their cryptic coloration and clustered distribution patterns hinder rigorous monitoring or detection of population or distributional trends. Missouri requires a sufficiently rigorous and comprehensive monitoring framework for freshwater mussels. Our long-term goal is to develop a statewide, strategic monitoring plan that maximizes probability of detection of population and/ or distributional changes in mussel species while minimizing costs and man-hours dedicated to monitoring purposes. The first step in attaining that goal is to develop models that identify factors affecting capture probability of individual mussel species and metrics of assemblage characteristics.