Freshwater mussel assemblages of the Wolastoq / Saint John River, New Brunswick: Establishing baseline population metrics and habitat associations

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University of New Brunswick


Freshwater mussels are among the most imperiled animals in the world and continue to experience reductions in distributions and range, and the loss of species from communities. As keystone species and ecosystem engineers, they provide ecosystem services that benefit both the surrounding freshwater environment, e.g., protecting, and sustaining ecosystem functions and water quality. Surveys for freshwater mussels are used to learn about the status of mussel populations and the health of aquatic ecosystems, yet there is a lack of current and historical data for freshwater mussel populations in most of Atlantic Canada. Baseline population data is becoming increasingly important amid threats such as continued anthropogenic pressures, invasive species, and climate change. I present the results of extensive freshwater mussel surveys throughout the Wolastoq / Saint John River, New Brunswick, the river with the greatest freshwater mussel diversity in the Maritimes. These surveys help to establish baseline population metrics for the Saint John River and allowed me to determine associations between freshwater mussels and their physical habitat. This baseline information can be used to help better understand the basic ecology of the freshwater mussel community as well as guide freshwater mussel management, conservation, and future freshwater mussel research efforts in the Wolastoq / Saint John River, New Brunswick, and Atlantic Canada.