Mussel Conservation in the Chickasawhatchee and Elmodel Wildlife Management Areas: Methods for a Relocation Study
Golladay, Stephen W.
Bambarger, A. Raynie
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Southwest Georgia has among the richest mussel assemblages in the world. The Chickasawhatchee Wildlife Management Area (WMA), location of the second largest swamp in Georgia, and the Elmodel WMA have recently been placed into permanent conservation status (+15,000 acres) providing an opportunity for the management of mussels. In 2001, 16 locations within the WMAs were surveyed for mussels using visual and tactile methods. Nine species were found with one being very rare (Alasmidonta triangulata) and another federally endangered (Lampsilis subangulata). Mussel densities were much lower than those found in nearby streams, which may be due to prior land use and historical droughts. During the spring of 2003, we plan to relocate three mussel species (Elliptio complanata, E. crassidens, Villosa vibex) that serve as surrogates for endangered species. Their survivorship will be observed for two years; in addition, water quality and hydrology will be monitored. We hope that with the development of relocation methods and identification of suitable habitat, populations of endangered species can eventually be established within the WMAs.