Date of Award





Earth and Space Science - Environmental Science Track


Earth & Space Science

First Advisor

John A. Barone

Second Advisor

R. Stringfellow


Elliptoideus sloatianus (purple bankclimber) is a freshwater mussel that m endemic to the Apalachicola River Basin, which includes the Chattahoochee, Flint, Chipola, and Apalachicola Rivers. Populations of E. sloatianus also exist in the Ochlockonee River, which discharges independently from the ACF basin into the Gulf of Mexico. In 1998, E. sloatianus was listed as federally threatened due to the loss of suitable habitat and the potential blockage of host fish passage into areas where the mussel lives. For this study, we located three populations of £. sloatianus in the Flint River in southwest Georgia. Gravid mussels were collected in late winter through early spring when the river was above normal flow. The early collection time allowed for fertilization in the river and glochidial development in the lab. To determine the larval host fish of E. sloatianus, trials were conducted using 16 species of fish, 7 of which successfully transformed E. sloatianus glochidia to the juvenile stage. Percina nigrofasciata (blackbanded darter) transformed significantly more juveniles than the other 6 species, suggesting it is potentially a primary host. In addition, the period of gravidity for E. sloatianus was determined to be late-March to mid-June by weekly observations at 3 study sues on the main-stem Flint River located in southwest Georgia. Cages were employed to hold some mussels at the sites where they occurred to ease monitoring. Surveys showed that E sloatianus individuals were found in areas of the main-stem river that provided a stable substrate and moderate to high stream flows.