USGS Columbia Environmental Research Center Project: Determine the Sensitivity of Ozark Mussels to Zinc, Lead, and Cadmium in Water and Sediment

Statement of Problem:
Concentrations of zinc, lead, and cadmium are elevated in water and sediment in habitats of numerous species of freshwater mussels inhabiting zinc and lead mining-related areas of the Ozark Plateau (e.g., Schmitt et al. 1993. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol 25:464-475). The management problem is the lack of information available to make decisions on the effects of past, current, or future releases of these metals in water or sediment on native mussels inhabiting the Ozark Plateau. The goal of this collaborative project between the USFWS, USGS, and SMSU is to generate zinc, lead and cadmium toxicity data in water or sediment for sensitive life stages of mussels native to the Ozarks using both laboratory and field assessments. This study complements an ongoing collaborative project between USGS, USFWS, SMSU, USEPA, Virginia Tech University, North Carolina State University, and Oklahoma State University designed to determine the contribution of degraded water quality on imperiled unionid species across North America.

Objectives:
(1) adapt laboratory methods for conducting water and sediment toxicity tests toxicity tests with glochidia and juveniles of mussels native to the Ozarks;
(2) evaluate the toxicity of zinc, lead, and cadmium in laboratory exposures with water or sediment to sensitive life stages of mussels native to the Ozark Plateau; and
(3) evaluate distributions of mussel species at a metal-contaminated site within the Ozark Plateau or transplant mussels to a metal-contaminated sites to evaluate potential effects of metal exposure.
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