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Freshwater mussel survey for the Columbia Dam removal, Paulins Kill, New Jersey

June 4, 2018

Semi-quantitative mussel surveys, conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network in cooperation with The Nature Conservancy, were completed in the vicinity of the Columbia Dam, on the Paulins Kill, New Jersey, in August 2017 in order to document the mussel species composition and relative abundance prior to removal of the dam. Surveys were conducted from the Brugler Road Bridge downriver approximately 2,000 meters (m) to the Columbia Dam and downriver from the dam about 300 m to 75 m upriver from the confluence of the Paulins Kill with the Delaware River. Sixteen sections (average length=175 m) were surveyed by personnel snorkeling or SCUBA diving; 13 sections were upriver from the dam, and 3 were downriver from the dam. Mussels, as they were encountered by surveyors, were removed from the sediment, immediately identified to species, and replaced in their original collection locations. Habitat data were collected for each surveyed section. Upriver and downriver from the dam, river margins with dense vegetation were examined for mussels by personnel using snorkels in transects (approximately 25 meters) perpendicular to river flow every 50 m on both sides of the river. Only two species were found upriver from the dam, and those were present in relatively low numbers. Catch per unit effort is reported here within parentheses as the average across upriver sections in number of mussels per person hour of survey time: 42 Elliptio complanata (2.6) and 1 Pyganodon cataracta (0.1) were found upriver from the dam. No mussels were found in the dense vegetation either upriver or downriver of the dam by surveyors using snorkels. Significantly higher species richness and mussel catch per unit effort were found downriver from the dam than upriver, including 106 E. complanta (32.5), 27 Utterbackiana implicata (8.2), 1 Alasmidonta undulata (0.4), 2 Lampsilis cariosa (0.5), 6 Lampsilis radiata (2.1), 4 P. cataracta (1.1), and 1 Strophitus undulatus (0.4). The average habitat assessment score did not differ upriver and downriver from the dam.

Publication Year 2018
Title Freshwater mussel survey for the Columbia Dam removal, Paulins Kill, New Jersey
DOI 10.3133/ofr20181074
Authors Heather S. Galbraith, Carrie J. Blakeslee, Jeffrey C. Cole, Erik L. Silldorff
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2018-1074
Index ID ofr20181074
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Leetown Science Center; Eastern Ecological Science Center