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Diversity 2017, 9(1), 5; doi:10.3390/d9010005

Tracking the Recovery of Freshwater Mussel Diversity in Ontario Rivers: Evaluation of a Quadrat-Based Monitoring Protocol

1
Aquatic Research and Monitoring Section, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Trent University, DNA Building, 1600 West Bank Drive, Peterborough, ON K9L 0G2, Canada
2
Great Lakes Laboratory for Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Burlington, ON L7S 1A1, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Thilina Surasinghe
Received: 11 November 2016 / Revised: 15 December 2016 / Accepted: 6 January 2017 / Published: 13 January 2017
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Abstract

Watershed inventories and population monitoring are essential components of efforts to conserve and recover freshwater mussel diversity in Canada. We used two datasets to assess the efficacy of a quadrat-based sampling protocol for: (1) detecting mussel species at risk; (2) characterizing species composition; (3) providing accurate estimates of abundance; and (4) detecting changes in density. The protocol is based on a systematic design (with random starts) that samples 20% of monitoring sites with visual-tactile surface searches and excavation of 1 m2 quadrats. The first dataset included 40 sampling sites in five Ontario rivers, and the second dataset consisted of complete census sampling at two 375 m2 sites that represented contrasting mussel assemblages. Our results show that the protocol can be expected to detect the majority of species present at a site and provide accurate and precise estimates of total mussel density. Excavation was essential for detection of small individuals and to accurately estimate abundance. However, the protocol was of limited usefulness for reliable detection of most species at risk. Furthermore, imprecise density estimates precluded detection of all but the most extreme changes in density of most individual species. Meeting monitoring objectives will require either substantially greater sampling effort under the current protocol, or a fundamental revision of the sampling approach. View Full-Text
Keywords: unionids; endangered species; systematic sampling; population monitoring unionids; endangered species; systematic sampling; population monitoring
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Reid, S.M.; Morris, T.J. Tracking the Recovery of Freshwater Mussel Diversity in Ontario Rivers: Evaluation of a Quadrat-Based Monitoring Protocol. Diversity 2017, 9, 5.

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