Research and development of a water quality testing program targeting imperiled aquatic species and their habitats at extant and re-introduction sites in the Complete 540 project area

Freshwater mussels of the family Unionidae are filter-and deposit-feeding aquatic organisms that live burrowed in sediments of our streams and rivers. Unfortunately, they are in serious global decline and urgently need protection and conservation. The declines in the abundance and diversity of native North American mussels, snails, fishes, and amphibians have been attributed to a wide array of human activities that cause pollution and water-quality degradation, and habitat destruction and alteration. These types of threats remain present, and unfortunately, these organisms residing in the streams of North Carolina have experienced similar declines. For some water quality constituents and pollutants such as ammonia, heavy metals, major ions, and others, unionid mussels are known to be among the most sensitive faunal groups in aquatic systems. Mussels and other aquatic organisms are exposed to these compounds through multiple routes including surface water, sediment, porewater, and diet, and for many chemicals, the newly transformed juvenile mussel is the most sensitive life stage, although this may vary by species and compound. The most effective ways to determine suitable water quality and protective chemical thresholds are to perform in situ measurements of organism growth and survival using caged organism studies coupled with simultaneous measurements of water and sediment quality or through toxicity testing with standard methods in a controlled laboratory setting. This project will develop and implement a rigorous water quality and habitat testing program for reintroduction and restoration initiatives targeting imperiled mussels and other priority aquatic species (Dwarf Wedgemussel (Alasmidonta heterodon), Yellow Lance (Elliptio lanceolata), Atlantic Pigtoe (Fusconaia masoni), Carolina Madtom (Noturus furiosus) and Neuse River Waterdog (Necturus lewisi) in the Complete 540 project area of North Carolina. The research team will utilize captively propagated organisms produced at the Yates Mill Aquatic Conservation Center (YMACC) or by its state and federal partners to determine whether the water and sediment quality conditions present in the streams targeted for species reintroduction are conducive to their long-term survival, growth, and reproduction. The development and implementation of this water quality testing program for the target imperiled aquatic species at extant and reintroduction sites will be essential for long-term success of conservation efforts because proper site selection requires an improved understanding of the factors required to support fully the species.


    • English


    • Status: Active
    • Funding: $2000000
    • Sponsor Organizations:

      North Carolina Department of Transportation

      Research and Development
      1549 Mail Service Center
      Raleigh, NC  United States  27699-1549
    • Project Managers:

      Kirby, John

    • Performing Organizations:

      North Carolina State University, Raleigh

      College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
      Department of Soil Sciences, Campus Box 7619
      Raleigh, NC  United States  27695-7619
    • Principal Investigators:

      Cope, Greg

    • Start Date: 20230101
    • Expected Completion Date: 20231231
    • Actual Completion Date: 0

    Subject/Index Terms

    Filing Info

    • Accession Number: 01873349
    • Record Type: Research project
    • Source Agency: North Carolina Department of Transportation
    • Files: RIP, STATEDOT
    • Created Date: Feb 20 2023 8:15AM