Droughts often pose situations where stream water levels are lowest while human demand for water is highest. Here we present results of an observational study documenting changes in freshwater mussel communities in two southern US rivers during a multi-year drought. During a 13-year period water releases into the Kiamichi River from an impoundment were halted during droughts, while minimum releases from an impoundment were maintained in the Little River. The Kiamichi observed nearly twice as many low-flow events known to cause mussel mortality than the Little, and regression tree analyses suggest that this difference was influenced by reduced releases. During this period mussel communities in the Kiamichi declined in species richness and abundance, changes that were not observed in the Little. These results suggest that reduced releases during droughts likely led to mussel declines in one river, while maintaining reservoir releases may have sustained mussel populations in another.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Environmental Chemistry