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ESR 2:37-49 (2006)  -  doi:10.3354/esr002037

Water and sediment quality at mussel (Unionidae) habitats in the Ochlockonee River of Florida and Georgia

Jon M. Hemming1,*, Parley V. Winger2, Steven J. Herrington3, Wendy Gierhart1, Holly Herod4, Jerry Ziewitz1

1US Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Ecological Services, 1601 Balboa Avenue, Panama City, Florida 32405, USA
2US Geological Survey, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center Athens, Warnell School of Forest Resources, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602, USA
3The Nature Conservancy, Northwest Florida Program, PO Box 393, Bristol, Florida 32321, USA 4US Fish and Wildlife Service, Fisheries Resource Office, 1601 Balboa Avenue, Panama City, Florida 32405, USA

ABSTRACT: Water chemical analyses, porewater and whole sediment chemical analyses, and porewater and whole sediment toxicity testing were performed as part of a combined effort between the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the US Geological Survey. These analyses were used to predict impaired stream sites that may impede a healthy natural riverine community. The analyses also revealed differences between sites that currently support and those that have ceased to support mussel populations. We estimated risk scores for the riverine community based on water and sediment characteristics. To identify and rank habitat in need of restoration, the risk estimation was derived by comparing collected data to water quality standards, sediment quality guidelines and toxicity test controls. High-risk scores often coincided with areas that no longer support historical freshwater mussel populations. Based on the data collected, factors thought to impede the existence of a natural riverine community included: sediment toxicity (porewater and whole sediment), sediment lead, sediment manganese, sediment ammonia, and low dissolved oxygen.

KEY WORDS: Water quality · Sediment quality · Ochlockonee River · Freshwater mussels · Unionidae

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