Historic and current unionid mussel distribution in tributaries of the lower Flint River, southwestern Georgia: an examination of current and historical trends

350 210 Stroud Water Research Center

Chastain, C.A., S.W. Golladay, and T.K. Muenz. 2005. Proceedings of the Georgia Water Resources Conference. Athens, Georgia.

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The historically diverse assemblage of freshwater mussels in the Flint River Basin has shown declines in abundance and distribution. The midreaches of the major tributaries of the Flint River contained one of the richest assemblages of mussels in the southeastern Coastal Plain. Declines in mussel assemblages were accelerated by the recent drought that occurred during 1999-2001. Following the drought, we surveyed mussel populations at selected sites in the major tributaries of the Flint River to determine if declines in abundance and distribution were continuing. Many populations of common, rare, and endangered species were stable in their distribution but exhibited declines in numbers. One survey site in particular, on Spring Creek, contains a rich assemblage of mussels unique to this basin, and surveys from this site also suggest population declines. Possible explanations for declines include poor water quality, loss or degradation of instream habitat, competition from the exotic Asiatic clam, and inadequate instream flows.