Development and Implementation of a Multi-State Relocation Plan for Federally Endangered Mussels

Focus Area

Wildlife & Ecosystems


Natural Resources






Over 3 years

Research Idea Scope

Development and implementation of multi-state plans/strategies for relocation of endangered freshwater mussels from thriving source populations to rivers within the historical range of these species for the purposes of augmentation of populations, offsetting take from transportation projects at source population locations and potentially resulting in advancements towards the recovery of these species.  The indicated source populations for the study would be populations of Northern riffleshell (Epioblasma torulosa rangiana), clubshell (Pleurobema clava) and rayed bean (Villosa faballis) in the <st1:place w_st=”on”>Allegheny River and French Creek, predominantly from the impact area of the Hunter Station Bridge Replacement.  The following would be potential receiving waters for the endangered mussels: Elk River, West Virginia; Duck River, Tennessee; the Green, Tippecanoe and Licking Rivers, KY; the Vermillion River, IL; and Upper Darby Creek, OH.  These states have all expressed great interest and have initiated baseline studies in support of this activity. Studies would include development of a relocation plan potentially utilizing a structured decision making process, compilation of baseline water quality, habitat and mussel studies for the receiving rivers, genetic baseline studies, relocation efforts, tagging and monitoring of relocation success. 

Specific tasks include:

  1. workshop(s) involving interested parties in a strategic decision making process to facilitate development of the multi-state plan;
  2. Compilation of baseline data from multiple states to identify and prioritize relocation sites;
  3. salvage of mussels from the source locations;
  4. transport and relocation to receiving waters; and
  5. monitoring over a period of years to document survival and reproduction in the receiving waters as well any detrimental effects to the source populations.

Urgency and Payoff

Relocation technology has application for several other DOTs where other endangered mussel species occur.  The planning and decision making approach will be applicable for addressing other environmental issues in the future.  The relocation plan will have value as a model for other species relocations. Several Bridge Replacement Projects will be streamlined through the development of this multi-project mitigation strategy. Ultimately, success could lead to the eventual de-listing of the mussel species cited and additional mussel species if the technology is duplicated with other species and locations.

Suggested By

Toni Zawisa, PennDOT, Environmental Quality Asurance Division, Telephone: 814-765-0588

[email protected]