Freshwater mussels face threats from climate change and changing land use that are dramatically altering their habitat. The health of mussel populations and the state of current and past environmental conditions can be monitored by measuring mussel growth and glycogen levels. In this study, we measured growth and glycogen levels in mussels from two small river basins impacted by different land uses. The Snake River in the St. Croix Basin, Minnesota, had low levels of suspended sediments and was surrounded mostly by forest and some developed land. The Chippewa, Cottonwood, and Le Sueur rivers in the Minnesota River Basin had significantly higher annual suspended sediment loads and highly agricultural basins. Mussel growth was highest in the Le Sueur and Cottonwood rivers followed by the Chippewa and the Snake rivers. Mussels in the Minnesota Basin rivers all had higher mussel foot glycogen concentrations than the Snake River. These patterns were similar for two mussel species, suggesting that environmental conditions are likely determining levels of growth. Although agriculture had a negative effect on mussel population abundance and diversity, it had a positive effect on growth and glycogen levels.
- Freshwater mussels