2022 January

January 2022_NW Native Freshwater Mussel Workgroup minutes

NW Native Freshwater Mussel Workgroup

Quarterly Meeting

Tuesday, January 18, 2022 1:00 Pacific Time

Zoom Meeting

Attendees: Kevin Aitkin, Craig Haskell, Alexa Maine, Josh Boyce, Emilie Blevins, Al Smith, Katherine Saurenson, Patty Morrison, Kate Holcomb, RD Nelle, Andy Lawrence, Linnea Gullikson, Dorene MacCoy, Emily Johnson, Christina Wang, Ryan Blackadar, Julie Campbell Smith, Tyler Beals, Jennifer Poirier, Bruce Moffatt, Tim Counihan, Almeta Helmig, Stephen Bollens, Laura Navarette, Rob Plotnikoff, Liz Bockstiegel, Michael Stephenson, Michele Weaver, Michelle Anderson, John Chan, Courtney Newlon, Jerry George, Ann Gannam, Bruce Moffatt, Celeste Searles Mazzacano, Gretchen Sausen, Jerry George, Dave Stagliano

New folks who introduced themselves: Josh Boyce (USFWS, Arcata FWO), Kat Sarensen (USFWS), Linnea Gullikson (USFWS), Christina Wang (USFWS), Tyler Beals (Yakama Nation)

Meeting Minutes

  • FMCS – Board meeting update, bylaw development and division structure within the FMCS (Emilie Blevins).
  • FMCS board meeting highlights 1) internship opportunities 2) professional certification 3) August 2022 workshop in Tennessee that will focus on sampling protocols ($250/member)
  • 2023 FMCS Symposium April 9-13; PNW was to hold 2021 meeting in Portland. PNW members (Alexa Maine, Michele Weaver, Kate Holcomb, Teal Waterstrat, Kevin Aitkin, and Patty Morrison) put a lot of work into planning.  There is a need to reinitiate the planning committee again, developing the program, developing abstract.
  • There may be a need for others to assist? Reach out to Emilie, Alexa or Patty if you are interested.  Interest by FMCS to provide a virtual aspect to this meeting, so if anyone who has experience with hybrid meetings, please reach out with any advice.
  • Goal is for the workgroup to be a Division of the FMCS by the annual meeting in 2023. See the draft of the structure here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1CZP5yt92HoKImcBKg4CCmNQSEyXbqcvW/view
  • eDNA planning and collaboration (Emilie Blevins Xerces Society and Courtney Newlon, USFWS)
  • Shared the coordinated effort between Xerces, BLM, USFS, USFWS, ODFW, and WDFW to identify priority basins and google doc link to enter current and/or upcoming projects to avoid duplication of effort.
  • RMRS would like to coordinate with the workgroup to ensure that effort is not being duplicated, particularly since they do not process all the samples being collected.
  • FWS looking to coordinate with other agencies/groups working across the species’ range, including statewide or regional efforts (e.g., state fish and wildlife, USFS, BLM) to better inform the FWS western ridged Species Status Assessment as an opportunity to fill in distribution gaps for the western ridged mussel but also for the other mussel species, as it would help better describe current distribution, and potentially identify areas where more intensive surveys could be conducted.
  • Recommendations could be cited for use in funding applications
  • Recommendations will be made available to the workgroup in the coming weeks
  • Here is a list of known existing eDNA projects, please share any eDNA projects you are aware of: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1dLVWzPg8IMq95CEHX8k75NepoFMV42Hlm6mZlB8cbng/edit
  • Alexa Maine shared the CTUIRs planned 5-year effort for CTUIR ceded territories.
  • Kate Holcomb shared that UDWR worked with USU (Karen and Torrey) and noted that the # of samples, low densities might give a negative reading.  Sampling distance is a top consideration.
  • Emilie Blevins mentioned a paper out of California related to sampling distance (added to Google doc)
  • Dorene MacCoy brought up that Matt Laramie and David Pilliod are working with her on probability of detection study with known numbers, sampling at different times, what detecting, when detecting, Results expected Spring 2022.
  • Josh Boyce mentioned USFWS funding to conduct a mussel heath status assessment (part of FWS nationwide funding project). Large tributaries to the Klamath. Could collect eDNA samples if interested.
  • Almeta Helmig (Nevada) – mentioned her work planning to use RMRS samples and repurposing for 3 mussel species.
  • Update from Tyler Beals (Yakama Nation)
  • Tribe involved in freshwater mussel recovery opportunistically with lamprey salvage efforts in Yakima River (Sunnyside canal).
  • 2015-2020 – Headgate shut off occurs annually on Oct 20th. 725 live mussels upstream and downstream of the fish screens have been salvaged and relocated in Yakima River. Mostly western pearlshell, however in 2021 there were western ridged mussels.
  • October 2021 they PIT tagged 100 western pearlshell mussels.  There were 4 release groups (in the canal-upstream and downstream of the fish screens) and in the Yakima river (above and below PIT array). Overall goal is to monitor long term survival, movements, and understand overall mussel population in the canal.
  • In 2018, started collecting empty shells to age (University of Idaho – Chris Caudill). Identified shell condition. Lots of predator activity beaver, raccoon, mink, and otter.
  • Update from Dorene MacCoy (City of Boise – WQ division):
  • Summarized efforts described previously in October 2021 meeting.
  • Flow model (Lidar; 2D model) overlaying with habitat suitability curves for fish and mussels
  • Attempted to capture/detect breeding timing by examining fins, gills, etc but no luck.
  • Expressed interest in how to detect glochidia and describe breeding timing.
  • Fall of 2022 – Tentatively planning on a workshop with a mussel symposium as part of the PNW Society for Freshwater Science meeting.


2021 October

PNW Native Freshwater Mussel Workgroup
Quarterly Meeting
Friday, October 29, 2021 Pacific Time
Zoom Meeting

Updates from Idaho (Ryan Blackadar, Dorene MacCoy, Joel Sauder)

Ryan Blackadar (USFWS IFWO): Bruneau River mussel mania in September (4 agencies, 13 people), western ridged mussels, found and PIT tagged 62, plus 1 western pearlshell, 40 collected haphazardly and opportunistic, 22 in quadrats and transects to get density estimates (0.37/m2), measured (29-76mm sizes), future work to do a long-term study in the area, plan to continue tagging mussels
also work on Sawtooth NF and NRA- surveys for mussels, also worked with IDFG to analyze archive eDNA samples on Salmon River for a research trip, intend to continue collaboration in 2022, including eDNA (plus Idaho Power and City of Boise). Hoping to collaborate with Shoshone Bannock and Idaho State University
 did not make it to Weiser River this year, so high on list to revisit

 Joel Sauder, (IDFG): eDNA samples from RMRS and collected for other purposes to be sampled for mussels, expanding across ID for next round
o Joel (IDFG): Rafted mainstem Salmon River (Corn Creek to Carey Creek boat ramp ~80miles of river) with Dave Stagliano and others, September 2021 (before water temps started to drop, ~15-17 C water temp)
 Building more capacity to work on western ridged mussel in 2022 and 2023.
 Spot checks, bucket transects, Snorkel & Dive (mini dive 10 minutes of air), length measurements (50mm to 90mm; most common 71-75mm), 1/4m quadrats (no randomization, variety of habitats)
 Wanted to confirm presence throughout the float (sampled every 2-3 miles)
 Observations of occupied/non-occupied habitat
 100% cobble and 100% sand habitats were poor & marginal habitat (contrasted prior literature observations)
 Most dense beds were observed out of the main current; fines in the interstitial spaces. Overall could find mussel with little effort. Reliably find mussels every couple miles over 80-mile stretch. Increasing mussel presence as moving down stream. Not many empty shells/no die offs anywhere.
 Measured ~ 1400 mussels. Seems like a good age/size spread. Not many smaller than 50mm.
 22 quadrats buried were 20-50% of surface count. No difference surface:buried mussel length
 5-40% sand; stabilized by cobble or boulders (angular block rock better); pockets behind large boulders; lower water velocities where depositional material can settle; inside bend of a channel
 SF Salmon River has abundant Western Pearlshell
 2022 & 2023 plans to repurpose eDNA data when possible all over Idaho to better assess distribution
 Elizabeth Torrey: Clear bottomed raft and Kayaks? Would those help with ID or observations. JS: long-term issues with scratches. With a little experience ID is not problematic. Western pearlshell extend out of substrate while western ridged mussel is buried to valve. Bucket viewer seems easier than clear bottom rafts. PR-49 “pack raft” has no water draw and very maneuverable

Dorene MacCoy (City of Boise – WQ division): Sampling and monitoring team, monitors Boise River
 Search for mussels in the lower Boise River. Southwestern ID. Urbanized/suburban ID. River diverted upstream at Lucky Peak Dam to irrigate agriculture and returned to river downstream. Boise interested in freshwater mussels: Lander St and West Boise Water Renewal Facilities. Ammonia in EPA Clean Water standards updated in 2013. Decided to look for freshwater mussels in 2018 Boise River seems like amazing habitat.
 Figure 2013 EPA guidance (in waters >15C, early life stages of mussels)
 2019 worked with FWS-Dave Hopper in trout spawning reaches to look at detectability with eDNA at Loggers and Landers Creek.
 Visual and eDNA surveys
 Smithroot eDNA (3 sampling / efisher backpack style)
 Aging mussels (sent shells to Wisconsin lab)
 Chris Caudill (U of Idaho) – D. Nemeth sent shells and a grad student will be doing their thesis on aging?
 Fish Host evaluation (College of Idaho, potential host fish, vouchered 5 of each species (e.g., rainbow, brown, mountain whitefish, sculpin, dace to look at gills/fins)
 Flow model (Lidar; 2D model) overlaying with habitat suitability curves for fish and mussel
 USGS building an eDNA lab in Boise, not sure when it will be accepting submissions. (See another mention below.)

• updates from Utah (Kate Holcomb)
o eDNA Torrey Rodgers / Karin Mock (western pearlshell; floaters): generalization not a lot of density. Few mussel = low detection of freshwater mussels at a short distance from source individuals.
o Eric Wagner (UDWR) guide “Utah mollusk identification guide” available spring 2022
o New locations for western pearlshell! Beaver Creek, Summit County, UT. Just found new populations in Goose Greek (western pearlshell and floaters) and Mill Creek (Upper Bear).

Update from Yakima Basin, WA (Craig Haskell, USFWS)
o Yakama Nation has done the past work (WDFW – Elizabeth Torrey, U of Idaho)
o 2021 preliminary data from repurposing eDNA (lamprey samples ~65 samples)
o Developed proposal for entire basin for eDNA (shopping the proposal around)
o October 2021 – met with Yakima Nations at Sunnyside
o John Erhardt (IFWO) showed tagging techniques
o Annual dewatering salvaging lamprey, western pearlshell, western ridged mussel from side area to mainstem river
o Next steps: Toppenish Creek NWR develop long term monitoring station
o Expand eDNA sampling
o Collaboration (Yakama nation; U of Idaho) develop broad long term monitoring plan

eDNA planning and collaboration (Emilie Blevins Xerces Society, Courtney Newlon, USFWS)
o PNW workgroup members have long been involved in eDNA sampling efforts for mussels
o increasing interest by agencies, tribes, and other organizations to collect eDNA samples
o many people get in touch with RMRS and eDNAtlas to process these samples, but others do not, concern about duplicate efforts
o large library of samples at RMRS that could be rerun for mussels
o Courtney, Emilie, and staff at NGC and RMRS spoke about efforts to coordinate:
 review where sampling has occurred
 identify where sampling would be valuable
 coordinate to share this with people who contact about sampling, and others
o opportunity to share your projects, select areas of interest to pursue sampling
o more information in early 2022
o Bruce mentioned metabarcoding project from PNW USFS and a new project that will include mussels. Also noted that samples online don’t mean mussels aren’t present
o Alexa-CTUIR is using the atlas to select sites for sampling (100+samples per subbasin within CTUIR ceded territory, 70+ samples already)
o Dorene- David Pilliod is building a USGS eDNA lab in Boise (sister to Wisconsin USGS lab).

 Western ridged mussel SSA status (Courtney Newlon, USFWS)
o positive 90-day finding published this year (July 2021)
o next step is the Species Status Assessment that describes the status and provides information to be used in the 12-month finding determination
o 12-month finding will be published 9/30/24. Courtney is the lead for the SSA, still organizing internally for each state’s leads. Partners will get a letter of notification next year. Any georeferenced data please submit, and there will be a data call for each state likely early next year.
o Joel asked about deadline for information that will go into the process (Courtney doesn’t know yet—one of her key questions)? Joel is hoping for 1-2 field seasons to be able to provide survey data to the USFWS. Courtney does not expect the date to be flexible based on conversations internally. She will be able to provide a drop-dead date. Joel mentioned that IDFG got permission to use Section 6 funding to do their surveys in 2021. Hard to time funding cycle with the current timeline and need more time.
o Craig asked what the most important data is for the SSA. Courtney says when the USFWS ES teams from multiple states meet that they will be able to identify the best data needs. SSA development is built for as much data as available for a species.

Western mussel visual survey protocol development (Emilie Blevins, Xerces Society)
o Opportunity to align data collection, improve comparability of results, data collection to support conservation, distribution data gaps remain
o Urgent need for more than just presence/absence, can maximize survey efforts
o Protocols suitable for other states not well-suited to western mussels/rivers
o Intent is to adapt existing methods and utilize emerging technologies
o Initial core team: USFWS, BLM, CTUIR, Xerces
o Review of existing methods, develop common terminology and establish basic metrics
o Identify range of habitats and assemblages for testing
o Testing and feedback stages, revision
o Survey protocol rollout for use
o Joel interested in field testing next summer, Dorene as well-said we need a good monitoring protocol.

Effects of fire on a California mussel bed (Andy Lawrence)
o Andy is working on Fort Hunter Ligett along central California coast, studying effects of fire and sedimentation in addition to mussel surveys. Presented on 2021 observation of impacts to mussel bed. Post fire – heavy rains, increased runoff and basically buried the mussels.
o Elizabeth asked if it was the sedimentation definitely that impacted the mussels. Andy said they definitely would have been buried under several feet of sediment but also exposed to VOCs after the fire. They didn’t find any live mussels. Elizabeth also asked about any examples for mussels resurfacing after extreme burial? Andy wondered if maybe they did make it to the surface and were predated by raccoons. Previously the bed was protected in the deep water.

 Meeting ran up to the two-hour mark, save discussions of FMCS symposium, workgroup social media for next meeting. Thanks everyone!

2021 June

Wednesday June 16, 2021
PNW Native freshwater Mussel Workgroup:
13:00 – 14:15

Chair: Emilie Blevins Xerces Society

Attendees: Kevin Aitkin, William Gerth, David Stagliano, Dorene, Kaegan Scully-Engelmeyer, Cynthia Tait, Ann Gannam, Coutrney Newlon, Rob Plotnikoff, Elizabeth Torrey, Liz Bockstiegl, Aleaxa Main, Stephen Bollen Celeste Mazzacano, Sarah Hoyle, Denise Dammann, Christine O’Brian, Doug Nemeth , Hope Reiden, Michelle Anderson, Craig’s iphone, 360-789-6355, Trevor Griffins, IAmm1477, Miranda Plumb, Maureen Smith Michael Stephenson , Rblackadar, Ron Constable, Asako (Mollalla River Watch), Gsausen, Julie Tyson, Sharon Selvaggio, F Teal Waterstrat*,

1. Kaegan Scully-Engelmeyer on his graduate research @ PSU involving western pearlshell in coastal Oregon streams.
PPT provided and presentation by Dr. Scully-Engelmeyer. Framed in NWFP
Chemicals in forest management primarily for regenerative harvest.

Dorene (Boise) larger mussels below larger catchments? Catchment is defined as a drainage size/area…essentially larger drainages have larger mussels
Were glochidia encountered on host fish? No, we did not survey for glochidia presence. Temperature and distribution…? Linked to reproduction and parasitism of fish and there are a lot more questions to investigate, especially in systems with multiple salmonids with different temperature tolerances/preferences.

R. Plotnikoff: Pools Boulders and ??fish presence??: Is there a correlation between fish presence and physical in the coat debris flows and pulses common and stable substrates are rarer and higher up in system. It may not be that its where they reproduce, but where they are pushed to lower in the streams.
Bolted LWD structures from 1990’s might provide interesting insights into if mussels are moved to stable habitat or if they settled into created stable habitat.

2. Alexa Maine CTUIR mussel master plan.

CTUIR developed a Columbia Basin Freshwater mussel master plan. Studying propagation in Walla Walla. Developing plan for supplementations of Native Freshwater Mussels for selected drainages but finding should be applicable throughout the range/region of native mussels. Several agencies commented on document and it should be finalized by the end of the year. Alexa also presented at an NCTC webinar if you missed it (cultural and regional information).

Q&A: E. Torrey: WDFW: over the course of ~20 years and moving into restoration phase is there anything surprising/interesting to share. Alexa: documented declines and ongoing synthesis should model suitable Habitat. Most populations have declines with several outliners that have increased.

3. FMCS Division development (information attached)
Emily Blevins: Shared relevant documents (attached); FMCS interested in partnering with regional mollusk conservation groups. Looked at other national and international organizations to understand the structure. Best options are similar to AFS structure.
FMCS subdivide into geographic division or expertise. Can vary in number and spread. Currently regional divisions currently in existence. Current western division proposed. Somewhat analogous to Wendall Haag’s Freshwater mussel zones. The workgroup would have national and international recognition and bring in freshwater snails. Some interest and support for inclusion of western terrestrial mollusks. Have a voice in FCMS national and international statements and prioritization, to funding source, travel, meeting hosting, etc.
Allows for 2 levels of engagement as division. 1. FMCS member that pays dues. 2. Opportunity to continue as participatory member on regional listserv (no votes, discounts, meeting perks).
Uncertainly around how annual dues are divided to divisions…likely based on division enrollment.
By Laws for each division are developed/outlined.
Q/A Elizabeth Torrey: Any drawbacks? Emilie: dues limiting membership/engagement, and if the Western Division disagrees with the parent (FMCS) statements.
Rob Plotnikoff: excited about restarting formal meetings and sharing information.

August 15th due date for comments. Will be reviewed a November 2021 FCMS executive meeting. Potential to roll out at 2023 FCMS meeting in Portland as a “division” or chapter.

Close at 14:15

April 13, 2021

Contact: Emilie Blevins: [email protected]

Benefits to Becoming a Division

● As a formally-recognized Division within FMCS, our membership will have the opportunity to directly contribute to FMCS committees and initiatives (such as the National Strategy) that directly support critical research and conservation efforts. We will have voting representation for FMCS matters, and our membership will also benefit from the reputation and profile of this international society.
● Our Division will be supported by top researchers and professionals in the field, providing opportunities for networking, technical assistance, collaboration, and continuing education.
● Our Division will be more inclusive and representative of broader freshwater mollusk conservation efforts by formally adopting a geography and including researchers and advocates of our two most imperilled species groups.
● Division creation and membership will increase funding for Division freshwater mussel and snail conservation efforts. FMCS membership dues and meeting registration fees will go to support Division initiatives, including funding meetings, projects, and travel or membership scholarships as voted on by our members.
● In becoming a Division of an established 501(c)(3), we will gain the ability to accept donations without assuming additional administrative or financial burden.
● Membership is open to those individuals who are members of the Society in good standing (“active membership”) and who are located within the geographical area or request membership in it. At least 6 members of the Division shall be members of the Society. Membership and participation is also open to non-Society members as long as they adhere to the purpose of the Division and Society (“participatory membership”). However, only active members may cast votes or serve in a Division office, including committee leadership within the Division.

Section 5.18: Committees. The Standing Committees shall be: Insert: “Divisions”


Section 3.0. Committees Insert: 3.X “Divisions”

Geographical units of FMCS are groups of Society members who are located in the geographic region and/or are interested in the conservation of freshwater mollusks of a given geography, and who conduct activities that serve the objectives of and represent the Society. Activities and procedures of units are considered procedures of the Society, and must follow Society By-laws and Procedures. Geographical units may include Divisions, as well as other subunits adopted by the Society. A geographical unit of the Society may be authorized by the Board if it is considered likely to provide a worthwhile and long-term service to the Society with respect to the purpose of committees. The organizing unit within the Society shall be a Division, which is a geographical unit that applies to broad regions that may represent faunal distributions or political boundaries adopted by the Board.

Division Organization and Board Representation

● The Society’s initial Divisions shall be established by the Board in collaboration with the Division Standing Committee, following Society By-laws and Procedures.

● Society members will automatically be assigned to a Division based on residence within the geographic area but may request membership within a different Division by providing the request in writing to the President.
● New or revised Divisions may be proposed by providing the request in writing to the President and may be adopted following Society By-laws and Procedures.
● A Division may be dissolved should it fail to comply with, or overtly contravene, its own by-laws or the Society’s By-laws and Procedures, or if it otherwise ceases to be an active, effective arm of the Society.
● Divisions shall be represented on the Board of Directors through a Standing Committee Chair. The Division Standing Committee Chair shall be selected by members of the Division Standing Committee.
● Members of the Division Standing Committee shall be those Society members who serve as the Chair for their respective Division and shall operate according to Society By-laws and Procedures, with respect to Standing Committee requirements therein.
● Division members may create smaller organizational subunits to serve its purposes, but these subunits shall not act without Division approval.

Division Operation

● Within a Division, a Division Chair shall serve as the voting member of the Division Standing Committee on behalf of the Division.
● Only active FMCS members may serve as the Division Chair or hold any other unit office. Among its elected offices, each Division must have at least a Division Chair, Past Division Chair (once a Division has achieved this milestone), and a Division Chair-Elect.
● Each Division shall follow established By-Laws, which must be approved by the FMCS Board according to the Society By-laws.
● A Division may hold meetings, sponsor symposia, disseminate information, adopt resolutions, and engage in other activities that advance Society objectives and conform to the Society’s By-laws and Procedures. Actions and resolutions of a Division shall be identified only with that Division unless formally adopted by the Society or another Division.

Division Geographies

The following Divisions shall be adopted:

● European Division: countries of Albania, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, and United Kingdom.
● Western North American Division: U.S. states of Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Utah, Nevada, California, and Arizona and the Canadian province of British Columbia.
● Upper Mississippi River Division:
● Ohio River Valley Division (includes Tennessee-Cumberland; Upper Ohio snail?):
● Chesapeake Bay Division:
● Interior Highlands Division:
● Southern U.S. Division: state of Texas
● Great Plains Division:
● St. Lawrence-Great Lakes Division (includes Ontario):
● Lower Mississippi Division:
● Eastern Gulf Division:
● Mobile Basin Division:
● Southern Atlantic Division:
● Northeastern U.S. Division:

● Other non-North American

Division Dues and Financial Support

A portion of annual dues shall be made available as financial support of activities and services performed by Divisions that directly benefit Society members in their respective geographic regions. These funds shall not exceed 13% of the annual dues paid by Regular members and may be a smaller percentage if the Board deems it financially prudent to allocate a lesser proportion.

● The amount available to an individual Division shall be proportionally based on the number of active Regular members affiliated with that unit.
● The Society shall maintain funds on a biennial basis for Divisions. Funds shall be allocated to a Division for a specific purpose following Society Procedures for Funding of Society or Committee Initiatives.

Division By-laws and Procedures

Division By-laws and Procedures shall be developed by the Division Standing Committee in accordance with Society By-laws and Procedures. Division By-laws and Procedures shall require Board approval within the first year of an established Division.

Draft Division By-laws and Procedures–Example Only

SOCIETY [division name]
The Western North American Division of the Freshwater Mollusk Conservation Society (FMCS) has been established through the FMCS’ By-laws for the purpose of carrying out the objectives of the Society and its Division Standing Committee, particularly for the purposes of facilitating the implementation of the National Strategy for the Conservation of Native Freshwater Mollusks.
Membership is open to those individuals who are members of the Society in good standing (“active membership”) and who are located within the geographical area or request membership in it. At least 6 members of the Division shall be members of the Society. Membership and participation is also open to non-Society members as long as they adhere to the purpose of the Division and Society (“participatory membership”). However, only active members may cast votes or serve in an office. Membership in the Western North American Division includes individuals from the geographical areas of the western U.S. states of Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Utah, Nevada, California, and Arizona and Canadian province of British Columbia. Division activities and services shall focus on the freshwater mollusk fauna in this geographical area.
All FMCS members residing in places identified in this geographical area are automatically members of the Division. FMCS members may elect to be a member of another Division following Society Procedures. Only a Society member of the Division, in good standing, may be a voting member, hold office, or chair a committee.
All members, whether active or only participatory, shall adhere to the Society’s Code of Conduct as it applies to attendees of FMCS-sponsored symposia, workshops, meetings, or other FMCS activities (events).
1. Only active FMCS members in good standing for at least two years may serve as the Division Chair or hold any other Division office, including committee leadership within the Division. The Division shall be represented on the Society Board through the Division Standing Committee. A Division shall hold the following offices:

● Division Chair, who shall:
○ Serve as the Society’s voting member on behalf of the Division. The Division Chair may further represent the Division Standing Committee as the Standing Committee’s chair, according to Society By-laws and Procedures.
○ Preside at regular and special meetings of the Division.
○ Represent the Division at meetings of other organizations where official representation of the Division is desirable.
○ Provide leadership for programs and activities for the Division during the term of office.
○ Submit an Annual Report of Division activities to the Society’s Division Standing Committee Chair.
○ Automatically advance to Past Division Chair at the conclusion of the term of office.
● Past Division Chair, who shall:
○ Provide assistance with Division functions as needed.
● Division Chair-Elect, who shall:
○ Succeed to the office of the Chair and carry out those duties if the Chair is unable to do so.
○ Automatically advance to Division Chair at the conclusion of the term of office.
2. Other duties or offices, including those related to keeping minutes of meetings or carrying out financial duties can be established by a nomination and vote by the Division elected offices.
3. The term of elected officers shall be for two years following the Society’s biennium calendar.
4. A nominating committee shall be established for the purposes of voting for officer positions. Other standing committees shall be established by the Division officers for the purpose of addressing specific Division needs or activities, such as a symposium committee, subregional committee addressing specific fauna or goals, etc. For any standing committee, a committee chair shall be appointed, and this individual shall be responsible for reporting their committees’ activities, findings, and recommendations at annual and interim meetings of the Division. Division committees shall work in close coordination with comparable committees of the Society.

Governance Procedures and Voting
The Past Division Chair shall oversee a nominations committee consisting of no less than three (3) nor more than (5) Division members. Newly nominated candidates may not serve on the nominations committee. Selection of the committee members shall be completed no later than the first Division meeting of each calendar year and duly recorded. The full final nominations committee must approve the slate of officer candidates.
Candidates for elected officer positions shall be nominated by the nominations committee, including considering requests of members or self-nominations of membership. Officers shall be elected by a majority of ballots cast from the membership.
Elected officers shall be elected by majority vote by Division members in good standing by mail, electronic mail, or a secure internet voting site during a specified time period for the vote to be received by the committee in charge of counting the votes.
Any officer may be removed, with or without cause, by members of the Society Board according to FMCS Procedures. Any officer may resign at any time by giving written notice to the FMCS Board, President or the Secretary. Any such resignation shall take effect at the time specified therein; and unless

otherwise specified therein, the acceptance of a resignation shall not be necessary to make it effective. The officer shall be replaced according to Society By-laws and Procedures.
Decisions at a meeting of the Division shall be by a majority of those voting except in the case of amendments to the by-laws or as otherwise specified in the latest edition of Robert’s Rules of Order.
The Division shall meet at least once every two years at a time and place (may be virtual) decided at least six months in advance by the Division officers. Quarterly or special meetings may be held at the discretion of the Division officers. When mutually agreeable, the Division may meet jointly with other organizations or with other units of the Society in accordance with the Society Procedures. A quorum at a meeting of the Division for the transaction of official business shall be at least 6 members in good standing.
Actions and resolutions of a Division shall be identified only with that Division unless formally adopted by the Society or another Division.
The Division may maintain independent materials, such as a website, listserv, or other platform to promote Division activities and services within the geographic area and/or among membership. Any such materials shall adhere to the purposes and spirit of the Society as set forth in the Society By-laws.
These By-laws are the defining document for the Division and cannot be suspended and cannot be changed without prior notice to active members as follows. By-laws can be amended at any time throughout the year. An amendment to the By-laws may be proposed in writing to the Officers at least ninety (90) days prior to a scheduled Division meeting. If the proposed amendment is supported by at least one Officer, the proposed amendment will be distributed to all active members sixty (60) days prior to the next annual meeting, and will be open for discussion and voted on at that meeting. The amendment is consummated and ratified when approved by at least two thirds of the voting members, provided the number of voting members at the meeting constitutes a quorum.
Each person who is or was an Officer of the Division, including the heirs, executors, administrators, or estate of such person, shall be indemnified by the Division to the full extent permitted or authorized by the laws of the State of Missouri, as now in effect and as hereafter amended, against any liability, judgment, fine, amount paid in settlement, costs and expenses including attorney’s fees, incurred as a result of any claim arising in connection with such person’s conduct in his or her capacity, or in connection with his or her status, as an Officer of the Division. The indemnification provided by this By-law provision shall not be exclusive of any other rights to which he may be entitled under any other By-laws or agreement, vote of disinterested Officers, or otherwise, and shall not limit in any way any
right that the Division may have to make different or further indemnification with respect to the same or different person or classes of persons.

The members and Officers of the Division shall not be personally liable for any debt, liability or obligation of the Division. All persons, corporations or other entities extending credit to, contracting with, or having any claim against, the Division, may look only to the funds and property of the Division for the payment of any such contract or claim, or for the payment of any debt, damages, judgment or decree, or of any money that may otherwise become due or payable to them from the Division.

2021 March

NW Native Freshwater Mussel Workgroup
Quarterly Meeting
Thursday, March 18, 2021 at 9:00 Pacific Time

Attendees: Emilie Blevins (Xerces, workgroup chair), Wes Daniel (USGS), Dorene MacCoy (City of Boise Public Works), Steve Bollens (Washington State University), Lusha Tronstad (Wyoming Natural Diversity Database), Alyssa Bangs (USFWS), Ann Gannam (USFWS), Almeta Helmig (Great Basin Institute), RD Nelle (USFWS), Craig Haskell (USFWS), Jerry George (Kleinshmidt), Cynthia Tait (USFS retired), Celeste Serles Mazzacano (CASM Environmental), David Cowles (Walla Walla University), Denise Dammann (Dammann Consulting), Hope Rieden (Chehalis Tribe), James Barron (USFWS), James Kunz (USGS), Jen Poirer (USFWS), Joel Saunder (IDFG), Julie Campbell (USFWS), Kate Holcomb (UDWR), Kevin Aitkin, Kris Schaedel (HRSWCD), Liz Bockstiegel (WDFW), Martyne Reesman (ODFW), Michele Weaver (ODFW), Stephen Siddons (WGFD), Teal Waterstrat (USFWS), Miranda Plumb (USFWS), Laura Guderyahn (City of Portland), Rebecca Paradis (Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe)


  1. Welcome and introduction (Emilie Blevins, workgroup chair/Xerces Society)


  1. Zebra Mussels in Aquarium Products, USGS update (Wes Daniel, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database Coordinator, USGS)

Shared presentation: NAS Database, citizen science portal got report in late Feb from Petco. Photos reported upon request. Novel pathway, contacted WDFW AIS and went to local Petco on March 2, 2021. Moved to USFWS Law enforcement and USDA (regulated “plants”) Shipped from Ukraine and vector for many non-native organisms (flat worms diatoms, more). USDA does not regulate algae or screen for zebra mussels, USFWS taking the lead role now. Lots of screening with suitcase eDNA monitors.

What can we do? Be vigilant! Report. These vectors were likely going on for multiple months. This was a citizen science report, not agency. Help ID what else was in the algae balls.

Currently tracking ~1,300 NAS species. 

Denise Dammann: are there multiple brand names?

Wes: yes lots of labels and often relabeled. Also sold dry.

Kevin Aitkin: zebra mussels also reported from this vector from nurseries, floral stores, pond stores, and internet commerce.

Kate Holcomb: The success of widespread sharing of the information about zebra mussels, How were you so successful?

Wes: Great networks and agency response. It was also a learning experience as we noted gaps in “authority” in agencies or where we are lacking communication and resources. Also identified new vectors for NAS.

Dorene MacCoy: Do you know David Pilliods work with eDNA on Stream gauges to ID all aquatic species. 

Wes: Yes! and it is a great tool and a baseline for Aquatic monitoring. I did a detail in that office and work with USGS.

Wes: minimum data requirements for inclusion in USGS NAS database. Especially for eDNA reporting. eDNA reporting is the wave of the future!

Kevin Atkin: Some recommendations out there for zebra mussels to improve water filtration of Koi pond outlets.

Wes: Yikes. Will follow up.

  1. City of Boise mussel project update (Dorene MacCoy, City of Boise Public Works)

Sharing presentation: “The search for FWM in the Lower Boise River”

Why is Boise interested in Mussels. Diversion dam splits the upper and lower river. Population in the area is exploding! It’s an urban river with the challenges that come along with us. Lots of drainages, ditches, canals, and other diversions. “New York Canal” receives ~½ water in the Boise River in Summer. 2 renewal facilities that process ## million gallons of “dirty water” each year and expected to increase.

City needs to follow EPA clean water standards. Mussels found to be more sensitive than salmon fry to ammonia. 1995 – 2017 USGS collected benthic samples for WQ, but also included reports of FWM. but no mussels in the Boise River! So they started ad hoc mussel surveys in the area including dewatered areas for restoration and recreation projects (no luck!) Attended Xerces FWM training and read the materials!)

Also looked at fry releases locations to help where mussels might be. Using those tools they found mussels and started understanding habitat specificity. Mussels not prolific in the lower Boise River. Side Channels had more abundant mussels than main stem (or at least more easily detected mussels).

Dave Hopper? (USFWS) provided local training. Smith Root loaned out some eDNA detectors for field testing USGS ran samples. Had several local river “ positive or control samples” for eDNA.

All set up for surveys on the Lower Boise! 28 sample/survey sites identified. Found mussels (MAFA) at 5 of 28 sites. Margaritifera only in physical (visual) surveys. BUT MAFA eDNA sampling detected them in 16 of 28 sites. BUT one visually detected site was negative for eDNA. (eDNA was taken in side channel, a physical mussel was found in the main stem).

No Gonidea (ridged) found. Light directions for upstream (just below diversion dam) no Anodonta found in physical surveys, but eDNA found them in 13/28 sites.

First documentation of mussels…. Now what?

2 focus surveys in side channels to do “probability of direction” surveys with USGS. Working with USFWS to pit tag mussels to do long term assessments. Visual and eDNA surveys at 25 sites. Host fish work (IDFG and USGS).

David Cowles: Lake sampling.

Lusha Tronstad: done for amphibians

Kate Holcomb have you looked for host fish and glochidia on fish?

Dorene: We have not done that. It’s a big busy river with lots of priorities.

Short side conversation about eDNA sampling in lentic and lotic habitat.

  1. Corbicula fluminea and other AIS research at the Aquatic Ecology Laboratory, Washington State University (Steve Bollens, Washington State University)

Dr. Bollens at School of environment and science. Director of Myers point research station, 

AND co-director of aquatic ecology lab at WSU Vancouver (WA) with Gretchen Rollwagen-Bollens: we do Microbes to Fish.: https://labs.wsu.edu/aquatic-ecology/

New emphasis: harmful algal blooms and AIS. Planktonic invaders.Corbicula velgiers dominated summer water columns. Started looking at adults (growth rates, habitat associations of lower Columbia, competitive interactions (corbicula vs FWM). Planning on collaborating with CTUIR, USGS research lab, Xerces.) Steve welcomes future collaboration with him and the workgroup. 

Thanks workgroup for the inclusion (and the workgroup thanks Steve!)

Dorene: got any students interested in working in Boise River.

Steve: We are very interested in supporting graduate students. 

Emilie Blevins: could corbicula be a vector for freshwater mussel disease?

Steve: a little out of our scope, but very interesting. Corbicula is widespread and abundant, but can’t speak to the vector.

  1. Bear River, Wyoming mussel eDNA study update (Lusha Tronstad, Wyoming Natural Diversity Database)

Distribution of MAFA and ANCA in Bear RiverWyoming. How far can we detect with eDNA. Main focus is California Floaters. Hard to see because of the turbid river, Using Torrey Rodgers multi spp primers. Black (negative controls) all came back negative. Water chemistry didn’t explain FWM distribution. eDNA does not seem to be traveling far in the bear river. Thick Biofilm in the streams. Only found adult mussel shells. Concerned about reproduction. Want to follow up in areas with CA floater to find information about age and reproduction.

Almeta Helmig: How did you determine frequency of eDNA sampling

Lusha: Tried for every 500m, but limited by private land access to site

Dorene MacCoy: Is poster available? Did you do visual surveys?

Lusha: yes (Emilie will distribute to the workgroup). We did visual surveys in the past but one outcome of this project is to guide future surveys

Dorene: How deep do these things go? Are we just missing them? The photic zone doesn’t seem to monitor them. Thinking about sonar surveys.

Lusha: they are as deep as they can go.

Celeste: on Willamette we excavated mussels 20cm under the substrate. They can be really deep in areas where oxygen is available.

Emile: Doug Nemath (USFWS) found mussels ~1 foot into substrate.


  1. Joel Sauder: Idaho eDNA
    End of year funding allowed for eDNA sampling. Mining already collected data at USGS Rocky Mountain Research Station (noted above). Targeting Ridged mussel, but using Torrey Rodgers multiplex. Laying groundwork for sampling in 2022.

Dorene MacCoy: USGS gauge eDNA samples and BOR eDNA samples are out there to be mined if allowed. Might be regulatory. 

Discussion of open eDNA atlas and regulatory/hidden/protected datasets. How we can capitalize and who to contact.

Joel: Right now we are trying to put dots on a map.

 Xerces Society mussel program update (Emilie Blevins)

-Posted seasonal FWM surveyors positions for 2021. Please spread the word!

-please remember to disinfect: VIRKON Disease work has been delayed due to Covid and no real updates. Also in BMPs.

River Democracy Act: https://oregonwild.org/celebrate-river-democracy-act-2021 Williamson River included here at Xerces nomination.

Xerces has funds to assist in pre-project surveys and restoration planning in Oregon. Please reach out to Emilie if you have a project.

OPB Article looking a pesticides in Oregon waters featuring mussels: https://www.opb.org/article/2021/03/17/forest-pesticides-found-downstream-in-coastal-oregon-waters/

  1. Other business

Reminder about the FMCS virtual symposium
FMCS meeting coming up 10 members presenting and ~12 western mollusk presentations.

Other information from workgroup members

Kate Holcomb: we have one good river with MAFA in Utah. But a researcher found a new site/population/individual when snorkeling for fish in a beaver restoration project. More to come.

James Barron (USFWS Abernathey Tech center) MAFA. A number of MAFA held at the facility (group of 10) released glochidia in late Feb. The water was barely over 8 C. Propagated new MAFA cohort on steelhead (O. mykiss) with light inoculation (couple hundred per fish) Surprised at early date of congulatante response. Have 1-year old MAFA, and 3 groups of brood stock (~60 adult mussels).


2020 December

PNW Native Freshwater Mussel Workgroup

Quarterly Meeting Minutes (click here for a link to pdf copy of the minutes)

Monday, December 7 at 1:00 Pacific Time

Attendees: Emilie Blevins, Kris Schidel, Jennifer Poirier, Michele Weaver, Patty Morrison, Al Smith, Jodi Bluhm, Rebecca Paradis, Dave Cowles, Laura Johnson, Joel Sauder, Ali Helmig, Elizabeth Torrey, Kevin Aitkin, RD Nelle, Marie Winkowski, Sarina Jepsen, John Hineburg, Fred Haskell, Teal Waterstrat, John Erhardt, Alexa Maine, Courtney Newlon, Julie Tyson, Celeste Mazzacano, Trevor Griffiths, Barbara Kelly

  1. An update on the FMCS virtual symposium (Patty Morrison)

Alexa and Patty are on the planning committee for the 2021 FMCS virtual symposium, following the postponement of the Portland meeting until 2023. The symposium will be April 12-14, 2021. It will include a combination of live presentations and asynchronous presentations that can be viewed on your own time. Presentation formats include traditional 12 minute, 5 minute lightning, and recorded poster presentations. The goal is to share information among the freshwater mollusk community. The FMCS newsletter provides information, and Patty has some additional updates she can share with the listserv. Registration will be $20 for members and $5 for students. This is a great opportunity for folks to join FMCS. Laura asked: if someone had submitted an abstract to present to the PNW mussel symposium, would they need to submit a new abstract. Patty said that this is a completely different meeting and the process will be different. Folks should submit abstracts following guidelines for the new symposium call for abstracts.

  1. USFWS email issue (Emilie Blevins)

During the 2020 transition of USFWS email providers, it appears that workgroup members with USFWS emails lost access. It looks like re-subscribing these email addresses to the listserv is working. Workgroup members should check that listserv emails are not being marked as spam. Also, if you think you may no longer be receiving workgroup emails or would like to subscribe using a different email address, just email the workgroup chair.

  1. A recap of the recent USFWS staff internal agency mussel meeting (Courtney Newlon)

Following the petition for listing Gonidea angulata, USFWS wanted to increase internal communication about Service-led mussel projects, expertise, or information. Courtney Newlon, Doug Nemeth, Teal Waterstrat, and Miranda Plumb of USFWS collaborated to form an internal FWS workgroup. The goals are to identify priorities and share information among Region 9 USFWS staff interested in freshwater mussels. The group had its first brief meeting September 29. Some people in the group are new to mussels while others may have been working with them for years. Down the road, the intent is to collaborate on setting USFWS regional priorities and plans. There is also a national USFWS mussel working group as part of the fisheries program. Ann Gannam and Doug are contacts for this in the region. The national USFWS mussel workgroup has a strong propagation (hatchery and culture) focus. The plan for the Region 9 group is to meet at least annually, and otherwise as needed.

Rob asked about the differences between the USFWS group and the PNW native mussel group. Courtney clarified that it is an internal agency group for OR, WA, and ID (DOI Region 9/Legacy Region 1). Because it is internal, she can report out from those meetings but it is aiming for FWS staff. Rob also asked if it is affiliated with the webinar series. Courtney said that it is not affiliated with the series, as that is through the FMCS and USFWS NCTC. However, she agreed that they are a great resource. Rob is pleased to hear about this and there’s a lot of interest in his area. Courtney can connect Rob to who in FWS in Snohomish might be working on mussels. Teal said he is probably the closest geographically to the Snohomish and could talk with Rob more.

  1. Introduction of new WA state mussel biologist (Marie Winkowski)

Marie has a new role at WDFW as of March: Washington’s native freshwater fish and shellfish specialist in the fish management division. For people who knew Molly Hallock, this is a version of her position. Marie will be helping to coordinate freshwater mussel work within WDFW. Similar to the USFWS effort, she is looking to coordinate with agency staff and review at data collection efforts. She will share her email address with workgroup members. Teal said congratulations on the new job!

Rob brought up the topic of recreational mussel harvest in Washington and wondered if it is an issue or allowed since he is aware of crayfish harvest. Teal and Kevin said it is prohibited in WA and OR. Sarina pointed out from Xerces’ petition that recreational harvest of western freshwater mussels by the general public is prohibited in Washington and Oregon’s fishing regulations. Nevada, Idaho, and California do not prohibit recreational harvest. Ali said in Nevada she doesn’t know of any recreational harvest issues. Emilie brought up the workgroup’s discussion last year about recreational mussel harvest in Idaho and about reaching out to the state-may want to revisit this.

  1. Discussion of past (Elwha) and future (Enloe) dam removals and mussels (Teal Waterstrat, Rebecca Paradis, Dave Cowles)

Elwha: Dave became interested in mussels around the time that the Elwha dams were being taken out. Pre-removal surveys found no mussels in the river above the lower dam, which could be due to the fact that the Elwha dam has blocked salmonid migration for so long or because flow of fine sediments has been restricted by the Glines Canyon dam upstream so there was not much habitat for them. There are not many side tributaries above the lower dam (Little River, Indian Creek). No mussels were found in a survey of several miles of Little River, although Anodonta mussels were present in Lake Sutherland, which is drained by Indian Creek. His surveys found a few hundred western pearlshell mussels in the lower river scattered over several spots between the Elwha Dam and a water diversion by a fish raising facility. They also found ~5,000 mussels near the river, in and around the water diversion in an area that was going to be bulldozed and dewatered. This area is just north of the WDFW Chinook hatchery. Fisheries biologists were unsure of moving the mussels into the upstream tributary, so volunteers could only move them near the mouth of the river. Those assisting included NPS, FWS and WDFW staff, Lower Elwha Klallam tribal fisheries biologists, Peninsula College students, and others. Mussels were transported to some of the side channel areas and were tagged and measured. Dave’s group found one year later that there was high predation in the shallow transplant area. Additionally, in the second winter there was a major flood that obliterated the habitat the mussels were in and they were wiped out. The waterworks are now quite different than they were (dry most of the time now). Dave is interested if mussels are left there and would like to survey there and below the dams.

Rebecca is a biologist with the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe and actually helped as a student with the translocation. She has not found live western pearlshell in Indian Creek, just shells. She has not seen any live western pearlshell anywhere in the watershed. She has seen floaters in Lake Sutherland and in a beaver pond below the lake. She has also seen western pearlshell in the nearby Lyre River, which drains Lake Crescent and is not directly connected to the Elwha watershed. Pat Crain and his crew from NPS are also keeping their eyes open for mussels. Rebecca is applying for a tribal wildlife grant to look for mussels, to do eDNA, and is interested in translocation efforts if they are not found. She and Dave discussed collaborating on future efforts.

Teal said it is exciting that mussels have been refound in the watershed and is an interesting opportunity to study what has happened since dam removal. He asked if Rebecca works with Mike McHenry (she said yes).

Dave asked about how thoroughly Indian Creek has been surveyed. Rebecca said she has been up and down many times and seen lots of otters. Habitat is really slow, fine sediment. She commented it seems like strange habitat for western pearlshell. She has not surveyed below the Elwha dam or a few hundred yards above the diversion, where they used to be. One of the places where mussels were relocated ended up being inundated with feet of sediment.

Dave commented on an emergency salvage of 200 mussels in the river at the diversion where they had dewatered, although the mussels may not have survived. Rebecca mentioned she is curious if there were mussels above the dam. If they live a long time, why wouldn’t there be a remnant population?

Dave said he surveyed between the dams but didn’t survey above Glines Canyon Dam before the dam removal. The river bed between the dams was mostly coarse cobble with little fine sediment, so they could have been washed out. He was hoping to find them near the upper end of Lake Aldwell where the highway crosses the river because some watered side channels, but did not find any there either. He has not conducted any surveys above Lake Mills. Rebecca may target that with eDNA.

Enloe: There is renewed interest in the removal of Enloe Dam on the Similkameen River, Okanogan County WA. Previously, WDFW investigated the impacts suction dredging on freshwater mussels in Similkameen River and sampled sites above and below Enloe Dam. The dam may be removed in the future. The study was 15 years ago but it is possible no one has returned to visit those sites. Teal thought it would be a unique opportunity to look above and below, as well as to implement post-dam removal monitoring and provide conservation recommendations for the removal itself. Teal did contact the authors of the paper (Kruger et al. 2007) to let them know. He is unsure when the dam removal would occur.

RD said that his office is engaged in work in the area. He has done a fair bit of bull trout sampling in that area. His group will try to be engaged in the project. John said he is familiar with the Sinlahekin, which flows into Palmer Lake then into the Similkameen. He said there are healthy populations of all 3 genera of freshwater mussel further upstream. The dam was built on top of an existing waterfall, and it would be important to track sediment moving from the site. There is not much of a reservoir, and it is mostly filled in. In the past there were proposals to consider increasing the height instead of removal, although those proposals may not be on the table anymore. There are native fish above the dam, and during glaciation, the river had many different courses. Unsure how long the river has taken its current course, but probably thousands of years. Rob said the dam was built in 1923. He thinks one of the things we are missing is age class information to understand whether mussel communities are self-sustaining. Dave said he tried to do that at the Elwha by looking at shell rings. They used other estimates correlating length to age of mussels and found a wide range of sizes. At the hatchery, there was an abrupt cutoff at a particular size. The site had been dewatered in 1970, and that seemed to correlate with the size distribution. They also found what they thought were 110-year-old mussels in the river. However, western pearlshell can grow much faster in some warmer streams.

Laura said that it’s important to look at recent reproduction and smaller age classes. The size to age ratio is best for those smaller age classes. For juvenile Anodonta and Margaritifera she found this to be consistent. Growth seems very dependent on food and temperature, and that differs across rivers. Rob said that Celeste’s talk at PNW SFS suggested that different basins may have different age/shell length correlations, and Celeste agreed that it needs additional study. Laura measured mussels in the Umpqua basin and especially the South Umpqua. She found that the North Umpqua is much colder but that mussels trended old and small. In warmer and more nutrient rich water, the better growth rates. Emilie mentioned that Oregon State has some equipment that is useful for aging mussels.

Rob also brought up the Kettle River, which he called the twin to the Similkameen. Someone has studied mussels there from a BC research group. It doesn’t have a dam but does have falls that are impassible part of the year. He thought it might be good to study in the future.

  1. Emilie shared the following City of Boise update, provided to her by Dorene MacCoy

Dorene is working with Dave Hopper from FWS in Idaho to develop a statewide mussel group to deal with issues in our political jurisdiction. She is also hoping to plan additional monitoring (both visual and eDNA data collection) on the Boise River next year. She is working on a monitoring plan with Matt Laramie with USGS Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center (FRESC) and David Pilliod, the local eDNA experts in Boise.

  1. An update on PNW/FMCS affiliation (Emilie Blevins)

Emilie provided an update from the last discussion regarding the PNW Native Freshwater Mussel Workgroup/Freshwater Mollusk Conservation Society (FMCS) affiliation. During 2020, members of the FMCS ad hoc “Chapters” committee, representatives from the ExCom and interested regional mussel groups met on various occasions to review possible structures for developing regional subunits under the FMCS umbrella. These included interviews with representatives of the American Fisheries Society (AFS) (national and Western Division), the International Association of Landscape Ecology, and a nonprofit lawyer, Michelle Anderson. The issues considered include liability, fiscal agency, administrative burden, independence of units, and participation. Five legal and fiscal structures were evaluated for these issues. The recommendation of the committee is to pursue establishment of committees, referred to as “Divisions,” to parallel the AFS unit structure, rather than to establish legally separate “Chapters” that would be subject to IRS scrutiny. If it is agreed upon by the FMCS board to proceed with Division formation and if regional groups are amenable to the approach, the Chapters ad hoc committee could next draft language for the Society’s bylaws using the AFS template constitution as a template: https://fisheries.org/about/ governance/constitution-and-rules/.

Emilie discussed the next steps for developing the affiliation, which includes developing the specific by-laws and structure for both the workgroup as a Division and for the parent society of FMCS. She requested feedback from workgroup members on the approach, including the discussion of becoming dues-paying members of FMCS (the plan, but perhaps with an “introductory rate”) and in maintaining the listserv for people to keep up to date on mussel news, even if they do not intend to become FMCS members.

Rob asked about how aligned the Division’s regional goals would be with FMCS. Emilie replied that they are interested in our region, and we would work to collaborate on issues. Michele also brought up that FMCS also covers freshwater snails. She asked if we become a regional division, would that mean we expand our focus to include snails. Emilie said that yes, this would expand the focus, although we could have subgroups within the Division focused on specific topics or issues.

Kevin brought up how transitioning is important because we have had challenges with being able to accept and hold money to support our initiatives, including holding meetings. He thinks that we should consider incorporating terrestrial mollusks, too. Patty commented that there are some people in FMCS working on land snails. One of the workshops they hosted in Alabama included a session on land snail ID. Folks with those interests are more than welcome.

Kevin brought up that it has been at least 4 years since we started working on this transition, and he thinks this is a good path forward. Emilie will provide more information after following up with the FMCS board. The workgroup can start collaborating on the specifics of the Division affiliation. More information soon.

  1. Other business

Dave asked if anyone is aware of an eDNA test for Corbicula. Someone mentioned that WSU might have an assay. The contact suggested was Karen Goldberg. Kelly Careem from RMRS was also suggested.PNW Workgroup December 2020 Minutes

2020 October

PNW Native Freshwater Mussel Workgroup Quarterly Meeting

Minutes of October 21, 2020 at 1:00

Patty Morrison; Rob Plotnikoff; Emilie Blevins; Al Smith; RD Nelle; Jeanette Howard; Liz Bockstiegel; Julie Tyson; Rebecca Paradis; Marie Winkowski; Teal Waterstrat; Laura McMullen; Ali Helmig; Elizabeth Torrey; Bruce Hansen; Kris Schidel; Michael Stevenson; Anna Chase; Hope Rieden


  • During our last call, we discussed continued planning for the Freshwater Mollusk Conservation Society’s biennial meeting to be held in Portland, OR in April 2021. Since that discussion, FMCS has transitioned to a virtual meeting for 2021. Portland will host the 2023 meeting.
    • Patty mentioned: we can circulate updates on that meeting (abstract submission and registration)
    • Rob asked about discounted rates for workgroup members. Emilie said that at this time we won’t have that in place, but it is a future possibility.
    • Teal can update the webpage to reflect these changes.
  • Thanks to everyone who shared thoughts on potential webinar topics from the PNW as part of the USFWS webinar series (click this link for more information). A webinar on eDNA tools and western freshwater mussels is tentatively on October 27 at 11:00 Pacific Time, presented by Torrey Rodgers of Utah State University (and recent author of this article) and Emilie. If you are involved in or aware of a western mussel eDNA project, we’d like to take a moment during the presentation to acknowledge the work being conducted, so please contact Emilie to have your project added to a list.
    • Al said they have been good so far and looking forward to it.
    • Patty asked if attendance is high. Al said, yes attendance has increased. It looks like there are often more than 100 attendees.
    • The presentations are posted to the NCTC website so you can view the ones you missed: https://nctc.fws.gov/topic/online-training/webinars/freshwater-mussel-conservation.html.
  • Alexa Maine’s request for restoration projects: Emilie mentioned this request again and asked folks to share information with her.
  • Gonidea angulata petition: Emilie gave a brief update on the submission of the petition and the timeline. The petition is now undergoing the 90-day review by USFWS.
  • Updates from workgroup members
    • Rob shared information on his long-term monitoring program (trend sites), including sharing that he has noted where they’ve found mussels, collected detailed information about habitat; conducted surber sampling but also surveyed habitat units (reach or riffle, pool). They do not collect mussels but do document size and species. They add 15 new (status) sites each year (Stilly and Snoho basins; other smaller basins in the county). They have also been looking at fish eDNA (mainly salmonids). Sarah Brown at WDFW (science division)- being able to offer eDNA analysis for fw mussels soon. They are looking at sites where they get positive hits to see if they see the species.
    • Teal mentioned that his office is moving from their current location and has been talking with Burke museum (new malacology dept and curator-Melissa Frey) about housing some of their mussel collection. Teal is working to help start a special PNW collection for shells. Rob said they have an existing collection and was wondering if there would need to be money associated with the submission of samples. Orma Smith museum in Idaho, where Bill Clark is the director. Anna said she was able to keep her collection housed there. That may be another option for the future.
    • Al asked about Tualatin surveys by Emilie. She mentioned Chicken Creek and Gales Creek, where mussels have been surveyed for and have been or will be relocated in advance of restoration projects.
    • RD Nelle shared information on USFWS work upstream of Yakima river on east side. They have been developing a strategy—they’ve done bull trout and lamprey eDNA and hope to use those samples to look for mussel presence; Marcie is going to work with them to piggy back this project from existing samples. Mussels have been found by crew members in the field. Next spring they are hoping to start some more surveys.
    • PNW SFS meeting—Rob Plotnikoff (Nov 18 and 19) virtual meeting
      • great plenary session, will be running a 9-2 meeting with a lunch break
      • platform will be Zoom, will have a yearlong subscription
      • several mussel talks
    • Emilie mentioned doing mussel surveys this year in the Coquille, Chehalis, John Day, and Crooked basins.
    • Kris noted seeing mussels in the Willapa River this summer.


2020 June

Pacific Northwest Native Freshwater Mussel Workgroup

June 17, 2020; 10:00 – 12:00 Pacific Time


Kevin Aitkin (USFWS), Emilie Blevins (Xerces), Hope Rieden (Chehalis Tribe), Al Smith, Patty Morrison, Sarina Jepsen, Liz Bockstiegel (WDFW), Michele Weaver (ODFW), Kate Holcomb (UDWR), Kris Schiedel (HRSWCD), Monica Blanchard (WDFW), Cynthia Tait, Celeste Searles Mazzacano (CASM Environmental), Claire Williamson (WDFW), Alexa Maine (CTUIR), Teal Waterstrat (USFWS)


Meeting Agenda

  1. Emilie Blevins, Xerces Society— welcome and introductions
    1. Background and information on the workgroup and resources for new listserv subscribers

Emilie shared the following information for new members:

The Pacific Northwest Native Freshwater Mussel Workgroup is an email listserv and workgroup covering topics related to native freshwater mussels in western North America. The workgroup was established to ensure that freshwater mussel research, management, and educational activities are coordinated, prioritized, and are consistent with identified information needs. You can learn more about the workgroup and access information and resources by visiting the website (https://pnwmussels.org/), checking out our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/MusselsPNW), and sharing mussel observations through our iNaturalist project (https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/freshwater-mussels-of-the-western-u-s). We have 220 workgroup members. It was established in 2003. Past chairs include:

Jen Stone, USFWS: 2003
Al Smith, ODFW (retired): 2004-2006
Sarina Jepsen, Xerces: 2007-2009
Shelly Miller, ODFW: 2010-2013
Celeste Searles Mazzacano, Xerces: 2014-2017
Emilie Blevins, Xerces: 2018-present

Benefits of Connecting with the Workgroup
The workgroup provides a forum for communication and sharing of information and resources. The workgroup is active, including scheduling quarterly phone calls for discussion, sharing relevant and timely information via listserv postings, and periodically convening symposia and special sessions at scientific meetings. With support from the chair, products can be used and developed under the name of the workgroup if they meet the goals and objectives of the group and charter. The current workgroup chair is Emilie Blevins ([email protected]). Teal Waterstrat manages the workgroup’s Facebook account and Website. Members of the 2020 Symposium Planning Committee include Emilie Blevins, Teal Waterstrat, Alexa Maine, Patty Morrison, Kevin Aitkin, Kate Holcomb, and Michele Weaver.

As a workgroup (listserv) member, you are subscribed to receive emails from the group listserv. This service is used to facilitate information sharing and discussion and serves as the main method of communication among workgroup members. To post public messages or to respond publicly to other workgroup members, you may send an email to [email protected] or reply directly to a thread. If you wish to reply privately to a workgroup member, be sure to replace “[email protected]” with the intended recipient’s email address when selecting the “reply” option. To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, you may send an email to [email protected].

Several new members introduced themselves. Kris is new to the group and freshwater mussels but has been in fisheries >20 years. She noted that she is surprised she has never heard of them and interested in how she can learn more and incorporate them into her work. Monica is an assistant district fish bio and has encountered mussels frequently. Al mentioned Cynthia was also a founding member if not a chair. He commented that many people in the workgroup started not knowing anything about mussels and have developed expertise.

  1. Emilie Blevins, Xerces Society— PNW Mussel Workgroup transition to FMCS Western Chapter

Emilie provided the following information to update members on activities related to transitioning the mussel workgroup to an FMCS affiliate. FMCS has been around since 1992. 681 members on the mailing list and 404 active members, covers snails and freshwater  mussels, manage species names lists, coordinate scientific meetings and workshops. In 2016, our membership initiated a discussion of the workgroup becoming an affiliate of FMCS.  There is also interest by European FMCS members in being recognized as a subgroup. Activities by the FMCS ad hoc committee to investigate this included interviews with AFS- Deputy Executive Director Dan Cassidy, Western Division-Daniel Dauwalter, IALE North America President Rob Scheller, a nonprofit lawyer, and representatives of 4 other regional groups.

Other topics discussed related to this work included the possibility of becoming an FMCS member with registration to the (now-postponed) Symposium and differentiation between listserv and FMCS membership (potential availability of scholarships and grants). Emilie asked for feedback from workgroup members. Cynthia asked about fees and Celeste asked if membership dollars would come back to the PNW affiliate. Emilie answered that these are specifics that we can negotiate with FMCS so that it is beneficial to all parties. AFS does require membership fees, but chapters do receive a portion of funds back to their membership, and this is a model we could follow.

Sarina asked about FMCS benefits from the PNW mussel workgroup joining. She wondered if we could have that association without becoming an affiliate. Patty mentioned that we have liaisons now but no board representation. Emilie discussed that we would not be able to direct more FMCS resources to the PNW without something more formal. Al mentioned that he thinks the AFS Oregon chapter is great and the PNW would benefit from something similar.

Cynthia asked if FMCS have any affiliates yet. Emilie said no, so we can really identify how to make it mutually beneficial. Celeste said this was an idea put out by the workgroup, not the chair. Kevin said he thinks it is time to move to the next level. Al agrees it is time to upgrade, and money has always been an issue to do projects. Kevin said we should still try to get information out to others. Idea for the PNW workgroup was presented in 2003 and there has been more interest. It has been nearly 20 years. People interested in mussels and working for highway departments- that never happened before.

Michele Weaver pointed out that there are many opportunities for non-member AFS people to participate, such as in meetings. Emilie brought up a proposal for having a dues-paying minimum of 6 PNW members. Al and Kevin said no problem. Cynthia asked about Oregon AFS dues- Michele said chapter membership for Oregon is $20, for AFS national itis more. Michele also said Montana AFS offers an affiliate membership that does not require you to become a national member.

Patty thinks we need to reduce this to writing and have people weigh in on options. Al thinks we should elucidate the background for how we got to that point. Cynthia asked if we are agreeing with how we become an affiliate and decide specifics later. Emilie said we are at the point of agreeing on the specifics. Emilie will write this up and see what input we get. Share that feedback with PNW workgroup members and discuss at the next call. Cynthia said she thought the name change from PNW to Western would be simple, as we’ve been including members from other geographies for years. Kate said we could also be the “Western Chapter of FMCS.” Cynthia may want to make it clear that it does not include east-draining basins. We would need to make sure that states like New Mexico and Texas don’t think they are represented. Al thinks it makes sense that we are recognizing beyond the PNW.

  1. Symposium Planning Committee Members— discussion of FMCS 2021 symposium and PNW Workgroup Special Session [recurring agenda item]

The committee provided a progress report on the (now postponed) Portland meeting, special mussel session, potential for virtual meeting, speakers, workshops and field trips. We discussed a virtual meeting in more detail. Celeste mentioned the virtual SFS meeting. Kevin said he saw one on Scots broom- a good example of a live one. Al said he saw one a month or so ago on monarch butterflies with 3-4 speakers over several hours, although the quality of the video was not good. Liz said Salish Sea ecosystem conference went very well, so that is another good one to look at. Kate said AFS spring virtual meeting went really well. USFSW mussel webinar went really well, too. Al agreed the USFWS webinar was great.

  1. Other items:
    1. Idaho harvest regulation changes: update on progress. Al shared testimony with Dave Stagliano from his own presentation to ODFW Commission. No further details.
    2. Mineral prospecting and placer mining: Kevin said Washington has updated their placer mining regulations. Aquatic mining is now restricted (see the map shared by WDFW). Mussels will benefit as well. Only possible in specific watersheds. Lots of recreational miners. Al has seen gold dredging in the Rogue River basin and it is very destructive. It is now better regulated in Oregon. New regulations in effect in Washington. Some differences between mechanical and non-mechanical. Panning still allowed anywhere. Cynthia said the Idaho restrictions are related to anadromous fish presence.
    3. Unio and FMCS listserv subscriptions: Emilie and Kevin attempted to have our listserv subscribed to these listservs but have had varying success with emails actually going through. We will continue to work on this
    4. Mussel Webinar Series ideas from workgroup members

Emilie provided results of the workgroup survey on webinar suggestions. We

  1. Case Studies in the PNW (mussel surveys and distribution studies)
  2. Restoration Projects I: Removal and Recolonization (Methods)
  • Restoration Projects II: Habitat Improvements and Mussel Communities (If we build it, will they come?)
  1. Ecology of Mussels in Running Water; Localized Effects on Water Quality and Other Species
  2. Importance of Mussels in Native American Culture
  3. Climate Change and Habitat Suitability: how is distribution of mussels affected?
  • Status and trends of PNW mussel species
  • Knowledge gaps, ongoing projects
  1. Sampling techniques, especially eDNA and translocation protocols

Cynthia said that Torrey just published a paper in Freshwater Biology on the western mussel eDNA primers. He would be a good person to speak on western mussel eDNA. He gives a good presentation. Emilie said it might be better if someone could speak more broadly to the eDNA efforts taking place. Montana RMRS is spearheading some of that work. Al thinks this would be a good topic. Cynthia said Salmon Challis NF has pearlshell in the Salmon River. Torrey was able to show via eDNA that Gonidea was present and so needed to take precautions when planning forest management. Liz said Marie Winkowski is leading an eDNA study in the Chehalis. She isn’t volunteering Marie, but that would be a good project to discuss. Emilie agreed to reach out to Matthew Patterson to see about our recommendations.


2019 December

Pacific Northwest Native Freshwater Mussel Workgroup Minutes

December 20, 2019; 10:00 – 12:00 Pacific Time

PDF of minutes here: https://pnwmussels.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/PNWNFWMG_December_2019_Minutes.pdf

Meeting Agenda

1. Emilie Blevins, Xerces Society— welcome and introductions
2. Patty Morrison, USFWS retired; Teal Waterstrat, USFWS; Kevin Aitkin, USFWS; Emilie Blevins, Xerces Society— discussion of FMCS 2021 symposium and PNW 2020 symposium [recurring agenda item]
3. Discussion regarding adding the Unio and FMCS listserve updates to our PNW emailings
4. Emilie Blevins, Xerces Society and Julie Tyson, WDFW— Mussel die-offs in the news
5. Dave Stagliano, Montana Biological Survey— update on pearlshell gravidity and host infection study, and introduction of graduate student Kristen who is working on in-depth timing of fertilization/embryo development and brooding in pearlshells
6. James Barron and Ann Gannam, USFWS Abernathy Fish Technology

Attendees: Emilie Blevins*, Xerces Society; Patty Morrison, retired USFWS; Kristen Cook, USFWS; Jodi Bluhm, Samish Tribe; James Barron, USFWS; Ann Gannam, USFWS; Al Smith, retired ODFW; Dave Stagliano, Montana Biological Survey; Celeste Searles Mazzacano, CASM Environmental; Jennifer Poirier, USFWS; Elizabeth Bockstiegel, WDFW; Kevin Aitkin, USFWS; Teal Waterstrat, USFWS; Courtney Newlon, USFWS

*note taker

Call Notes

 1. Emilie Blevins, Xerces Society— welcome and introductions

 2. Patty Morrison, USFWS retired; Teal Waterstrat, USFWS; Kevin Aitkin, USFWS; Emilie Blevins, Xerces Society— discussion of FMCS 2021 symposium and PNW 2020 symposium [recurring agenda item]

  • PNW Symposium (note this symposium was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic)
    • Following the survey filled out in March, we developed a committee to assist with planning a 2020 regional symposium and the 2021 FMCS symposium. Committee includes: Teal Waterstrat, Kevin Aitkin, Patricia Morrison, Michele Weaver, Alexa Maine, Kate Holcomb, Emily Davis.
    • Identified a venue that is providing free use (Vancouver WREC).
    • We have a webpage! Free registration for the event at our pnwmussels.org page (click the link at the top). First call for abstracts and a proposed schedule on the page. Please register and submit abstracts as soon as possible. We want to hear about your surveys, research, and projects. Deadline is January 31, 2020. Early registration ends on February 29.
    • Seeking additional sponsorships to help offset costs for plenary speakers, provide refreshments, and if possible offset travel costs for some members. Already have received some donations from Oregon AFS, HDR consulting, and FMCS but additional funds are needed. Sponsorship letter available if folks have someone in mind.
    • We will be asking for assistance at the meeting from workgroup members. If you are planning to attend and able to help with registration, poster setup and takedown, or other tasks, please get in touch with me.

Discussion among group indicated that multiple members are planning on attending. Kevin and Teal can put together a poster on the mussel workgroup for the symposium, and Al can bring some older posters from the workgroup as well. Courtney Newlon and Liz Bockstiegel also volunteered to assist at the symposium.

  • FMCS Symposium
    • Will be held April 11-15, 2021 in Portland, OR at the Double Tree hotel in the Lloyd District. The theme is “Mountains to Sea and the Mollusks Between.” More information will be available in June 2020 on registration costs and the first call for abstracts.

Al noted that he has attended multiple and thinks they are great. This is an opportunity to meet some of the big names in mussel research and conservation.

3. Kevin Aitkin, USFWS— Discussion regarding adding the Unio and FMCS listserve updates to our PNW emailings

Kevin Aitkin: Matthew Patterson said we could add the PNW workgroup listserve to Unio listserve. What do people think about receiving more emails? Celeste asked whether if people subscribed to both, would they receive 2 emails or 1. Patty said many already are receiving 2 emails because it is forwarded to our listserve. Emilie asked if the number of emails people were receiving are overwhelming. Several people said no. Teal: Would we be impacting Unio’s numbers by grouping so many people from the NW together? Kevin said he can ask Matthew. Teal also asked whether subscribing to FMCS would reduce interest from people in our region? Kevin said it could help get information about the group out before the meeting. Emilie said she can ask Jeremy Tiemann about concerns. As no one has asked to be removed from our email listserve, we can probably go ahead and sign up. People can change their email preferences if they are receiving too many.

4. Emilie Blevins, Xerces Society and Julie Tyson, WDFW— Mussel die-offs in the news

Emilie noted that there has been lots of recent press about mussel die-offs in the Clinch River, and reporters reached out to her as well to learn more about observations in the PNW. This was because of a current partnership with USFWS, USGS, UW Madison, and Xerces to sample and investigate mussel die-offs. Workgroup members may remember there was interest by FMCS back in 2017 in observations of mussel die-offs. Al Smith compiled observations from the workgroup and shared on our behalf. Teal also developed a letter with a link to a reporting page to gather more observations from the public and biologists.

In 2014, Ray Kinney reported to the workgroup his observations at Smith Rock State Park, and Al Smith also visited the site to see conditions. Similarly, WDFW staff observed and reported on mussel die-offs in the Chehalis River back in 2015. There is now a partnership between USFWS, WDFW and Xerces to collect information on mussel health and distribution in the Chehalis River and tributaries. The intent is to help understand what is happening at die-off sites and look for relationships with water quality, population characteristics, and mussel condition. Sampling will begin in 2020. Simultaneously, mussels were collected and sent to the lab in 2018. These mussels have a high incidence of a previously unreported virus that is different from the one detected in the Clinch River and new to science. High association with sick mussels.

Teal added that Curt Holt was the first observer in the Chehalis. Teal is glad that this work is progressing and that the workgroup is in place to answer questions from the public. Patty said the most recent issue of FMBC is dedicated to health and disease, the topic of the FMCS workshop in 2018. Lots of information on mussel die-off research, global in scope. Open access is available from the FMCS website. Patty will send out a link.  (here is the link: https://molluskconservation.org/PUBLICATIONS/FMBC/FMBC_Vol22/FMBC_Volume22-2.pdf

5. Dave Stagliano, Montana Biological Survey— update on pearlshell gravidity and host infection study, and introduction of graduate student Kristen Cook who is working on in-depth timing of fertilization/embryo development and brooding in pearlshells

Dave introduced Kristen Cook at Montana State. Kristen is working with him and Michele Anderson. She just passed comps and presented MS thesis proposal. Chris Barnhart in Missouri is on her committee. This joint project is gathering information on 5 watersheds, 25 populations and conducting multiple revisits to determine reproductive status and timing. Western pearlshell are gravid from Memorial Day to July, and she is looking at influence of stream temperature. Glochidia release is much quicker from brooding point. Host fish are brooktrout, redband, brown trout, cutthroat trout. Several populations are surviving on brook trout.

Kristen is looking at reproductive biology, oocytes to fertilized eggs in marsupium. 2nd year coming up. She is a biologist with USFWS and is hoping to get region involved in MT pearlshell more. She is focusing on 2 of the 5 watersheds. She can look at how fast embryos are developing. Al and Teal said great work. Dave said this project was conceived 4 years ago, and it took this long to get funding.

6. James Barron and Ann Gannam, USFWS Abernathy Fish Technology— update on recent mussel activities

James and Ann work at the Abernathy Fish Tech Center in SW Washington. They have been doing hands on mussel work for 1.5 years now, working with Margaritifera mainly. Started with an interest from ID, and wanted to make sure they could hold mussels. 23 western pearlshell collected from Abernathy Creek. Have not worked on a burrowing study yet, but have been holding and monitoring them. They released glochidia last spring. They inoculated fish and have 1 juvenile produced in captivity that is still alive fed and held only on creek water. Abernathy is not a production facility, but once was so they have the setup to hold and propagate if needed. Have some funding through FWS to work on mussels. Currently looking at a physiology study related to temperature. Collected another 23 mussels to look at hemolymph nonlethally. Looking for stress biomarkers. Treated in higher temps up to 26 C for 5 days. Drew hemolymph and can run multiple tests. More information soon. Will look at cortisol, Tbars, calcium, glucose, etc. Looking to figure out how much they can analyze from the samples. Will analyze in January. Monitoring to see how the mussels recover from hemolymph draw. Original 23 mussels still around except 1 mortality. Also doing nutritional work with western pearlshell. Will do an analysis of creek water and look at algae. Trying to inoculate more fish and produce more juveniles. Were able to inoculate steelhead and coho, but mussels did not survive on coho. Could have another funding opportunity to hold western ridged mussel to look at condition health indices.

Patty wanted to ask the group if there are other facilities working on grow-out. James said Alexa is the only one he knows of in the West. Abernathy may be able to work on this more. Celeste said Jonathan Young at Presidio Trust has worked on this and that we should invite him to symposium. Patty mentioned that some facilities specialize in propagation and others in grow out. James said propagating has worked but the grow out meant lots of loss. Could be smothered in the silt. Emilie mentioned that Presidio is just Anodonta. James invited workgroup members out to see the facility.

7. Discussion of use of mussels and harvest

Teal has heard from people but there seems to be limited examples of harvest. There is an Idaho example of harvest that Emilie found online. Dave wondered if we would support a letter to Idaho to end legal harvest of mussels. Dave did this in Montana. Travis said that is a great idea. Al said it was 20 years ago that he testified before the commission in Oregon. Al said a letter from the workgroup copied to chair of Idaho Fish and Game Commission and to the director, with support from biologists in the state, could be one route. Kevin Aitkin said it would be great to find someone in house to help push this through. Al said it was a smooth process. Dave said Joel Sauder would be a good contact, and it would be worth asking Forest Service and Fish and Wildlife to weigh in. Al suggests sending an email to the membership about taking a stand and seeing if there is opposition. Teal was wondering if FMCS was interested in taking a policy position and would be willing to join in. Al said AFS would be good to get in touch. Al and Dave would be able to help.

8. Celeste wanted to congratulate Travis on receiving an award from the Grande Ronde who have been involved in mussel surveys. Travis can see if Brandon at the tribe wants to join the listserve.


2019 September

Pacific Northwest Native Freshwater Mussel Workgroup Minutes

September 16, 2019; 1:00 – 3:00 Pacific Time


Meeting Minutes

Attendees: Kevin Aitkin, USFWS; Emilie  Blevins, Xerces Society; Patty Morrison,  retired USFWS; Miranda Plumb, USFWS; Celeste Searles Mazzacano, CASM Environmental; Al Smith, retired ODFW; Cynthia Tait, USFS; Teal Waterstrat, USFWS; Michele Weaver, ODFW; Ann Gray, USFWS; Courtney Newlon, USFWS; Ann Gannam, USFWS; Kate Holcomb, UDWR; Douglas Nemeth, USFWS; Emily Davis, NWIFC; Ted Parker, Snohomish County.


Emilie Blevins— Update on status of meeting planning for the regional PNW mussel meeting (2020) and FMCS national meeting (2021): Meeting planning has been stalled during the summer field season. However, a venue has been identified in Vancouver, WA for the regional meeting, the Vancouver Water Resources Center. The planning committee is meeting later this month to begin work on meeting details and will have more information soon. Similarly, the group will be discussing planning for the 2021 FMCS meeting in Portland, OR. They are coordinating with FMCS board members.

Al Smith— Al presented information on a survey effort he led this summer. Al coordinated with Steve Stampfli on mussel surveys in Rattlesnake Creek, a tributary to the White Salmon River. Steve lined up volunteers (17) from at least 8 agencies from eastern WA and the Yakama tribe. Together, they conducted a survey. Beforehand, Al gave a 45-minute presentation, handed out mussel guides and literature, and demonstrated how to use Aquascopes and what to look for. In total they found 40 western pearlshell of all sizes, including a number of juveniles. Al noted that most of the biologists were a bit younger. Cynthia asked about what species of fish are in the creek. Al only saw cottids and possibly winter steelhead.

Celeste Searles Mazzacano—  Travis Williams was not able to be present, and Celeste filled the group in on the Middle Fork Willamette River study. For the study, the group surveyed right below Dexter dam for 2 days in the end of July and early August, including workgroup members such as Patty Morrison, members of Willamette Riverkeeper, and some fish biologists from the Grande Ronde tribe. Unfortunately, another water release from the dam happened right when surveys were beginning. The group surveyed one area close to the dam, which Celeste described as having a very large number of western pearlshell mussels over maybe a couple of hundred meters. They conducted transect surveys, which were divided into segments from the shore out to the middle of the river until depth and flow were too much. They found more than 12,000 mussels in transects. Sixty quadrats excavated, and more than 2,000 mussels were counted. Many were buried (170 or more were below the ones on the surface). They were in good condition, with very few dead. There were many smaller mussels, especially compared to the Norwood channel population. Juveniles were present, with most mussels <10cm. Even though the mussels did not get very big, they are probably older. Possibly other mussel populations were found near Albany during Paddle Oregon.

Ann Gray— Ann and Courtney collaborated this summer with Brian Bangs of ODFW on mussel surveys in the Calapooia, a tributary of the Willamette River. The search was targeting western ridged mussels, so they chose several places to conduct wading surveys. There was some snorkeling in the upper basin. They targeted about 20 locations, some of which were scrapped onsite after seeing the habitat. They surveyed from the mouth up to Weyerhaeuser property and found evidence of western pearlshell at multiple sites, including a small one at the uppermost site. They found about 6 western ridged mussels at one site but nowhere else. All western pearlshell beds were fairly small, possibly 20 individuals, usually upstream of the bridge abutments.

Doug Nemeth— Doug has been working with mussels since 2017 in preparation for statewide mussel surveys that began this year. He wanted to develop an index of abundance across 1m-wide swaths. Survey work started in the ID panhandle, with 20 streams surveyed at 31 locations. Next year he will also add demographic surveys with quadrats, record sizes, and make use of PIT tags. He is also planning to conduct some behavioral experiments related to burrowing. He is also interested in spatial distribution, and in developing an index of relative abundance in the Lolo Creek watershed. This year his team walked 73 km looking for mussels and will use their work to develop a population estimate for the Lolo Creek watershed.

He has continued to track PIT tagged mussels in Lolo Creek. Ninety mussels have been revisited 4 times. This year they found 3-4 mussels not found at other times. The detector appears to be good only good up to 13 inches, but other mussels could be below that depth. He also tagged other mussels this year from the Crooked River.

Statewide surveys will continue in southeast Idaho next year. Cynthia asked about sharing location maps. Doug said that he needs to write a narrative.

Al will be visiting Idaho and wondered if the data will be available (yes). Teal also asked about testing the depth of the reader. Doug tested up to 17 inches and up to 13 worked. Doug will possibly be refurnishing a wet lab at Dworshak and is interested in studying burrowing activity and temperature. Previous surveys indicated that 4 degrees C is the coldest that mussels will be visible. Al mentioned how great it is to open up another mussel lab in the PNW. Ann Gannam at Abernathy is also working with mussels. Her lab was able to collect gravid mussels and have infected steelhead. They are looking for juveniles now. Ann will also be looking at temperature stress and mussel physiology. The original plan was for ID and Abernathy to share mussels for a joint project, but they had difficulty in getting mussels from ID to WA because of the potential for invasive, so they are having to work independently.

Emilie Blevins— Emilie updated the group on her week of mussel surveys on the Owyhee River in August with ODFW’s Dave Banks and crew. They surveyed 49 miles via inflatable kayak from the bridge at Rome, OR, downstream to Birch Creek. They found numerous western ridged mussel shells in the river and in otter middens, including many shells of smaller age classes. They also found many live mussels but they were more sparsely distributed than she has seen at Three Forks. She also found many sick-looking mussels on the riverbed. She collected several and sent for testing to the USFWS and UW Madison partners studying mussel die-offs in the U.S. The survey effort made it onto the ODFW Instagram page, with several posts of videos and pictures of mussels, surveying, and navigating the river. Thanks to Tim Akimoff of ODFW for doing that.

Cynthia noted that she had review archeological information on mussels in the Owyhee. There are archeological artifacts from caves on the Owyhee, from 1970s excavation of rock shelfs. Most shells were Margaritifera, half were Gonidea. Margaritifera are alive in the North Fork, which Emilie said she had also observed at Three Forks. Cynthia said there is data published on the studies. Emilie mentioned Christine O’Brien’s survey work. Cynthia gave a presentation at the Oregon Archeological Society on this. She is also going to write up the findings during her retirement. The next topic of conversation was that she will be retiring this month! She said she will stay active with the workgroup. Al commented that Cynthia was one of the first biologists to get into mussels in Oregon!September_2019_Draft_Minutes