Graduate Program

Biological Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Semester of Degree Completion

Spring 2020

Thesis Director

Jeffrey R. Laursen

Thesis Committee Member

Charles L. Pederson

Thesis Committee Member

Robert E. Colombo


There have been many studies that examine the negative impact of dams on freshwater mussel populations. However, recent studies suggest that some dams may create more suitable growing conditions immediately below some dams. This study’s main objectives were to 1) document where faster growth of mussels is found in relation to the Charleston Dam, 2) determine if sites with faster growth have higher recruitment and 3) investigate which water quality variable(s) could be correlated with faster growth. Live Corbicula sp. were set in cages in multiple sites at varying distances from the dam and shells of two native mussel species were thin sectioned and aged to document growth patterns. A survey was conducted to estimate recruitment at each site and water quality testing was conducted every season. Results indicated that mussels grew faster below the dam than above the dam; however, evidence was found to suggest mussels grow slower immediately below the dam. Recruitment was found to be significantly higher downstream in one species and not the other but other factors may play a more important role than mussel growth. No water quality variable was conclusively determined to correlate with mussel growth patterns. These data suggest mussels do grow faster below the Charleston Dam, but these effects are not likely a direct effect of the dam.

Included in

Biology Commons