Johnson Creek Watershed Council Surveys Native Freshwater Mussels

In 2010 and 2011, the Johnson Creek Watershed Council partnered with the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation to conduct surveys for native freshwater mussels in Johnson Creek. JCWC recruited over 45 volunteers to help at surveying events. Volunteers learned about the biology and ecology of native freshwater mussels, and the many ways in which these animals benefit water quality and fish habitat. Native mussels are sensitive to pollution and disturbance, so exploring mussel distribution and the age structure of mussel beds provides insight on the biological conditions of Johnson Creek.

Volunteers also learned how to identify invasive non-native mussels such as the Asian clam. Native Western pearlshell mussels were found in both stream reaches surveyed in the upper watershed, and native floaters were present in the lower watershed. Only a few Asian clams were seen in the upper watershed, but these numbers increased downstream. The event represented a unique opportunity for the general public to assist with field research, receive unique environmental education about an important component of the stream biota about which most people know very little, and to simply enjoy Johnson Creek - an urban habitat gem. The Johnson Creek Watershed Council and Xerces Society have more volunteer-based mussel surveys planned for 2012.