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A Survey of the Freshwater Mussels of the Ohio River from Greenup Locks and Dam to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,

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During the months of May-September 1979 the Ohio River, from its origin at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to the Greenup Locks and Dam, Greenup, Kentucky, was surveyed in order to document the extant freshwater mussel fauna. This was accomplished by a team of biologists from Marshall University traveling the river in a sixteen foot bass boat powered by a fifty horsepower outboard motor. The river was traversed at approximately five miles per hour until either likely looking habitat or shell debris was spotted. Sighting of shell deposits was aided by using binoculars to scan the shore line. In either case, as shells were discovered the boat was beached and collections were made. All shells, old and new, were collected from the beaches, bagged and tagged with locality data and later returned to the laboratory for sorting and identification. Many additional shells were also hand picked from shallow waters. By virtue of the fact that mussels were already in short supply, very few live specimens were removed from the river. For the most part live specimens were collected, identified and returned to the water. Many sites were brailed, using a six foot sampling brail, but for the most part brailing proved unsatisfactory as there was so much debris on the river bottom that we spent more time cleaning the brail than we spent brailing. Upon returning to the laboratory specimens were cleaned, labeled, aged, cataloged and classified as to whether they were without a doubt distinctly fresh or whether they were sub-fossils. The total number of species identified was 35. Of this number eight were found only as sub-fossil shells and must be presumed to be presently extinct or very nearly so in this research of the river.

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  • Biology
  • Biological Oceanography

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