Dams, Dam Removals, and Freshwater Mussel Conservation
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This study uses variety of analytical and geospatial techniques to analyze the connections between fragmentation and freshwater mussel distribution and community composition in Texas and the Guadalupe San Antonio River System (GSARS). Additionally, dam removal is assessed and promoted as a strategy for freshwater mussel conservation. The distribution of dams is related to Texas’ climate gradient and the location of population centers. Models of connectivity reveal the increasing amount of fragmentation dams have created in the GSARS through time and the substantial number of undocumented sources of fragmentation in this river system. Patterns of freshwater mussel distribution and community composition are related to the distribution of host fish, climate gradients, hydrologic regimes, and land use. Two dam removal prioritization models are created for the GSARS that incorporate metrics associated with freshwater mussel conservation and individual dam attributes. These models act as broad scale decision support tools for freshwater mussel conservation that can be built upon and further refined with additional data sources.