Assessing the Link Between American Eel and the Eastern Elliptio Mussel in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed

Tuesday, August 19, 2014: 1:50 PM
207 (Centre des congrès de Québec // Québec City Convention Centre)
Heather Galbraith , Northern Appalachian Research Laboratory, USGS, Wellsboro, PA
Carrie Blakeslee , Northern Appalachian Research Laboratory, USGS, Wellsboro, PA
American eels (Anguilla rostrata) have declined dramatically in the Susquehanna River, a major tributary of the Chesapeake Bay, since construction of several mainstem dams in the early 1900’s.  Evidence suggests that the historically abundant eastern elliptio mussel (Elliptio complanata) has also declined in much of the Susquehanna basin.  Freshwater mussels are obligate ectoparasites on one or more host fish species to complete their metamorphosis from larvae to juveniles.  Recent recruitment by the eastern elliptio mussel has been shown to be limited or entirely absent in parts of its range and may be linked to the loss of its primary host fish, the American eel.  Because freshwater mussels perform important functions in stream ecosystems, efforts have been made to restore eel populations around native mussel beds through experimental stocking.  Effects of stocking on eel and mussel population dynamics are being assessed along with alternative methods for restoring eel populations to the basin.  Pheromones may be used as a sustainable tool in guiding successful eel passage and restoring native communities linked to the historic abundance of this fish in the Chesapeake Bay.