EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Hydrodynamic Stressing and the Response of Endangered Freshwater Pearl Mussels to Turbulent Flows

Edward Curley1, Rhian Thomas1, Colin Adams2, Manousos Valyrakis4, and Alastair Stephen3
Edward Curley et al.
  • 1University of Glasgow, College of Science and Engineering, School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (
  • 2Scottish Centre for Ecology and the Natural Environment, University of Glasgow, Rowardennan, Stirlingshire, G63 0AW, United Kingdom
  • 3Scottish and Southern Energy, Pitlochry, Perthshire PH16 5NF, United Kingdom
  • 4School of Engineering, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, G12 8QQ, United Kingdom

Whilst there is encouragement to be taken from the fact that Scotland remains a stronghold for M. margaritifera populations, a trend of continued population decline persists. Our understanding of the hydraulic characteristics associated with successful M. margaritifera proliferation in the wild is poor. Additionally, evidence to suggest how M. margaritifera respond to variation in the associated parameters, is limited. The primary motif of this research project is to address the knowledge gap. Initial experimental analysis sought to establish a non-invasive method of quantifying acute mussel stress; using behavioural response indicators, coupled with measures of physiological condition. Results from this work have provided a foundation for investigating mussels as biosensors to remotely track alterations in chemical, hydraulic, and geomorphological parameters. Further research has investigated the response of live mussels to alterations in flow depth, with consideration of riverbed geomorphology, in both a laboratory flume and regulated river. Current experimental work in a laboratory flume is utilising remote sensor technology to understand the impact of flow velocity on mussel behaviour; examining how flow velocity may impact habitat selection, and how a mussel’s behaviour may in turn affect the surrounding hydrodynamics. The results emanating from this research will be novel and will ultimately provide urgently needed empirical data to drive future conservation strategies implemented by government (SNH, SEPA) and utilized by the hydroelectric industry (SSE).

How to cite: Curley, E., Thomas, R., Adams, C., Valyrakis, M., and Stephen, A.: Hydrodynamic Stressing and the Response of Endangered Freshwater Pearl Mussels to Turbulent Flows , EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-22185,, 2020


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