Freshwater mussels are a water quality indicator species and have been described as the ‘canaries in the coal mine’ for our streams. They are a fascinating group of animals with a particularly interesting reproductive strategy including an obligate life stage where they live as parasites on fish hosts. Sadly, they are also the most imperiled group of animals worldwide. Ontario is home to 41 species of native freshwater mussels, one third of which are listed as Threatened or Endangered under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA) and provincial Endangered Species Act (ESA). Infrastructure projects that have potential to impact these species or their habitat require SAR permitting and the animals often require a specialized relocation and multi-year monitoring program. Interestingly, the idea of restoring native mussel populations is being explored as a potential for enhanced water quality treatment.
If you are interested in learning more about native freshwater mussels and how to navigate a project when they are involved, please join us for a webinar presented by the RVA Ecological Services group.
Courtney Beneteau, M.Sc., CAN-CISEC (Freshwater Mussel Specialist / Fisheries Biologist)
Courtney has been a working as a Fisheries Biologist on infrastructure projects for over 14 years and has been a Freshwater Mussel Specialist for the last seven years. During that time, she has been leading SAR mussel projects from acquiring permits under the federal SARA and provincial ESA, to coordinating and leading the relocations, to the post-relocation monitoring, data analysis, and reporting. As the lead Freshwater Mussel Specialist on several large and small-scale projects, Courtney has experience in designing and carrying out survey programs according to DFO protocols, including both quantitative and semi-quantitative surveys, to identify freshwater mussels’ presence/absence, relative abundance, distribution patterns, size class distributions and sex ratios. She has also presented research and given talks on freshwater mussels at a variety of conferences including the Freshwater Mollusk Conservation Society symposium in Cleveland.
This webinar is organized by the OPWA Education Committee