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Biodiversity Institute Graduate Student Excellence Grant
Department of Zoology and Physiology
Graduate Advisor: Lusha Tronstad
The California Floater (Anodonta californiensis) and Western Pearlshell (Margaritifera falcata) are two species of freshwater mussels that co-exist in the Bear River drainage of Wyoming and are Species of Greatest Conservation Need (NSS1). They are essential for the continuation of healthy river basins because they filter water, are a rich food source for wildlife, recycle nutrients, and provide habitat and food for aquatic invertebrates. In Wyoming the California Floater mussel is declining throughout their native range. Western Pearlshell mussels are also declining but their populations appear healthy in the state. Currently, little information is known regarding California Floater recruitment or distribution throughout the Bear River Watershed and few live juveniles have been found during the last decade. The goals of this project are to better understand the life cycle of the California Floater by measuring what factors may inhibit reproduction and to learn more about their status and reproductive strategies. We will also simultaneously survey Western Pearlshell mussels as a comparison. This project aims to provide critical information on the distribution, abundance, and reproduction of these mussels within the Bear River Watershed to inform management decisions.
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Samantha with C. Floater mussel.
Western Pearshell and California Floater mussel shells.