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

Counihan, K., L. Bowen, B. Ballachey, H. Coletti, T. Hollmen, B. Pister, T.L. Wilson. 2019. Physiological and gene transcription assays to assess responses of mussels to environmental changes. Peerj 7:e7800.


Coastal regions worldwide face increasing management concerns due to natural and anthropogenic forces that have the potential to significantly degrade nearshore marine resources. The goal of our study was to develop and test a monitoring strategy for nearshore marine ecosystems in remote areas that are not readily accessible for sampling. Mussel species have been used extensively to assess ecosystem vulnerability to multiple, interacting stressors. We sampled bay mussels (Mytilus trossulus) in 2015 and 2016 from six intertidal sites in Lake Clark and Katmai National Parks and Preserves, in south-central Alaska. Reference ranges for physiological assays and gene transcription were determined for use in future assessment efforts. Both techniques identified differences among sites, suggesting influences of both large-scale and local environmental factors and underscoring the value of this combined approach to ecosystem health monitoring.