Freshwater Mussel Movement in the Kishwaukee River, Rockford, IL

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Freshwater mussels are often considered sedentary organisms and little information exists on horizontal movement in mussels and the mechanisms that drive it. Current research suggests some mussel species’ movement is influenced by low water levels, temperature, day length, and reproductive cues. It is a common conservation practice to move mussels from the impact zone of bridge construction or repairs as a means of salvaging listed species, highly speciose or dense mussel beds. Additional information is necessary to help determine best practices for moving mussels. In 2013, the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority concluded a lane expansion project on the I-90 Toll Road from Chicago to Rockford, Illinois. We’ve conducted research during the last several years to evaluate the mussel community and possible long-term effects from construction practices in the Kishwaukee River at I-90. In August 2015, we initiated a mark-recapture mussel population study with special emphasis on rare and state-listed mussels. Recording life history data during repeated sampling events for several years allows for a better understanding of biotic and abiotic factors influencing the mussel community and recolonization efforts within the post-construction stream area. For one study objective, we recorded the location (latitude and longitude) of PIT-tagged individuals from 2015-2018 during the months of August, September, and October. We modeled species’ upstream and downstream movement and used species, size, year, gage height and flow rate as covariates. Movement was calculated by measuring distance and direction between successive mussel locations. Our results show the direction of movement significantly affected the distance moved with downstream movements resulting in greater distances. In addition, some species may move more than other species, or they may be more susceptible to displacement during high flows. Understanding mussel movement and displacement can aid resource managers in identifying species-appropriate management decisions and guide future research efforts.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMidwest Fish and Wildlife Conference 2020
StatePublished - 2020


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