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Genetics Provide New Hope for Endangered Freshwater Mussels

USGS Newsroom - Mon, 05/18/2015 - 08:01
Summary: A piece of the restoration puzzle to save populations of endangered freshwater mussels may have been found, according to a recent U.S. Geological Survey led study

Contact Information:

Heather Galbraith ( Phone: 570-724-3322 x230 ); Hannah Hamilton ( Phone: 703-648-4356 );



WELLSBORO, Pa. — A piece of the restoration puzzle to save populations of endangered freshwater mussels may have been found, according to a recent U.S. Geological Survey led study. Local population losses in a river may not result in irreversible loss of mussel species; other mussels from within the same river could be used as sources to restore declining populations. 

Though they serve a critical role in rivers and streams, freshwater mussels are threatened by habitat degradation such as dams, alteration to river channels, pollution and invasive species. Mussels filter the water and provide habitat and food for algae, macroinvertebrates, and even fish, which are necessary components of aquatic food webs.

“Few people realize the important role that mussels play in the ecosystem," said USGS research biologist Heather Galbraith, lead author of the study.  "Streams and rivers with healthy mussel populations tend to have relatively good water quality which is good for the fish and insects that also inhabit those systems."  

Mussels in general are poorly understood and difficult to study. Because of this lack of knowledge, population genetics has become a useful tool for understanding their ecology and guiding their restoration.

More than 200 of the nearly 300 North American freshwater mussel species are imperiled, with rapidly dwindling populations.  Researchers are providing information to resource managers, who are working to reverse this trend.  USGS led research suggests that re-introducing mussels within the same river could reverse population declines without affecting the current genetic makeup of the population. 

The research shows that patterns in the genetic makeup of a population occurs within individual rivers for freshwater mussels; and that in the study area, mussels from the same river could be used for restoration.

“That genetic structuring is occurring within individual rivers is good news, because it may be a means of protecting rare, threatened and endangered species from impending extinction,” said Galbraith.  “Knowing the genetic structure of a freshwater mussel population is necessary for restoring declining populations to prevent factors such as inbreeding, high mutation rates and low survivorship.” 

Knowing that mussels in the same river are similar genetically opens up opportunities for augmenting declining populations or re-introducing mussels into locations where they were historically found. The genetics also highlight the importance of not mixing populations among rivers without additional studies to verify the genetic compatibility of mussels within those rivers.

The international team of researchers from Canada and the United States working to understand mussel genetics found similar genetic patterns among common and endangered mussel species.  This is important information for mussel biologists because studying endangered species can be difficult, and researchers may be able to study the genetic structure of common mussels and generalize the patterns to endangered mussels. 

Although understanding the genetic structure of mussel populations is important for restoration, genetic tools do have limitations.  Researchers found that despite drastic reductions in freshwater mussel populations, there was little evidence of this population decline at the genetic level. This may be due to the extremely long lifespan of mussels, some of which can live to be more than 100 years old. 

“Genetics, it turns out, is not a good indicator of population decline; by the time we observe a genetic change, it may be too late for the population,” said Galbraith.

By way of comparison, in fruit flies, which have short lifespans, genetic changes show up quickly within a few generations.  Mussels, on the other hand, are long lived animals; therefore it may take decades to see changes in their genetic structure within a population.

The study examined six species of freshwater mussels in four Great Lakes Tributaries in southwestern Ontario.  The species are distributed across the eastern half of North America and range in status from presumed extinct to secure. The six mussels were the snuffbox, Epioblasma triquetra; kidneyshell, Ptychobranchus fasciolaris; mapleleaf, Quadrula quadrula; wavy-rayed lampmussel, Lampsilis fasciola; Flutedshell Lasmigona costata; and the threeridge mussel Amblema plicata.

The study, “Comparative analysis of riverscape genetic structure in rare, threatened and common freshwater mussels” is available online in the journal Conservation Genetics.

For more information on freshwater mussels please visit Stranger than Fiction: The Secret Lives of Freshwater Mussels.

Two Disaster Recovery Centers Will Transition To Disaster Loan Outreach Centers

FEMA Press Releases - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 16:41

 

FRANKFORT, Ky.  – Disaster recovery centers in Lawrence and Carter counties will close Saturday, May 16, at 6 p.m. and transition to disaster loan outreach centers Monday, May 18, at 9 a.m.

The centers, which have been operated by the commonwealth of Kentucky and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, are located at 180 Bull Dog Lane (Lawrence City Community Center) in Louisa and 671 S. State Highway 7 (Grayson Utilities Building) in Grayson.

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Categories: Federal News

Second Disaster Recovery Center To Open In Jeffferson County

FEMA Press Releases - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 16:37

 

FRANKFORT, Ky.  – A second disaster recovery center operated by the commonwealth of Kentucky and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will open at noon Monday, May 18, in Jefferson County.

The new Jefferson center will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (EDT) weekdays and Saturday. It is located at 205 W. Wellington Ave. (Beechmont Community Center) in Louisville. The other Louisville center is located at 8501 Preston Highway and has the same hours of operation.

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Categories: Federal News

Second Disaster Recovery Center To Open In Jeffferson County

FEMA Press Releases - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 16:37

 

FRANKFORT, Ky.  – A second disaster recovery center operated by the commonwealth of Kentucky and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will open at noon Monday, May 18, in Jefferson County.

The new Jefferson center will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (EDT) weekdays and Saturday. It is located at 205 W. Wellington Ave. (Beechmont Community Center) in Louisville. The other Louisville center is located at 8501 Preston Highway and has the same hours of operation.

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Categories: Federal News

Second Disaster Recovery Center To Open In Jeffferson County

FEMA Press Releases - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 16:37

 

FRANKFORT, Ky.  – A second disaster recovery center operated by the commonwealth of Kentucky and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will open at noon Monday, May 18, in Jefferson County.

The new Jefferson center will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (EDT) weekdays and Saturday. It is located at 205 W. Wellington Ave. (Beechmont Community Center) in Louisville. The other Louisville center is located at 8501 Preston Highway and has the same hours of operation.

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Categories: Federal News

Bounce Back Faster from Disaster- Build to Code

FEMA Press Releases - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 16:03

CHICAGO – May is Building Safety Month, a public awareness campaign to help individuals, families and businesses understand what it takes to create safe and sustainable structures by increasing awareness about how building codes and code officials improve and protect the places where we live, learn, work, worship and play.

“We’re all at some level of disaster risk,” said Andrew Velasquez III, FEMA Region V administrator.  “It is important that we prepare now for the impacts that disasters can have on our homes, our businesses and in our communities.”

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Categories: Federal News

Delaware middle school, junior high students “sun their engines” in 2015 Junior Solar Sprint

DNREC News - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 10:53
DOVER (May 15, 2015) – More than 100 middle and junior high school students from 10 schools participated in Delaware’s 20th Annual Junior Solar Sprint Competition on Wednesday at Dover International Speedway in Dover.

DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife seeking great shots of Delaware anglers for annual photo contest

DNREC News - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 10:24
DOVER (May 15, 2015) – DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife invites angling and photography enthusiasts to enter the 2015 Delaware Fishing Photo Contest. The winning photo will be featured on the cover or inside of the 2016 Delaware Fishing Guide to be published early next year.

DNREC Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police Blotter: May 4-10

DNREC News - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 10:16
DOVER (May 15, 2015) – To achieve public compliance through education and enforcement actions that help conserve Delaware’s fish and wildlife resources and ensure safe boating and public safety, DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police

Federal Aid Programs for the State of West Virginia Declaration

FEMA Region III News Releases - Thu, 05/14/2015 - 20:31

Following is a summary of key federal disaster aid programs that can be made available as needed and warranted under President Obama's disaster declaration issued for the State of West Virginia.

Assistance for the State and Affected Local Governments Can Include as Required:

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Federal Aid Programs for the State of West Virginia Declaration

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 05/14/2015 - 20:31

Following is a summary of key federal disaster aid programs that can be made available as needed and warranted under President Obama's disaster declaration issued for the State of West Virginia.

Assistance for the State and Affected Local Governments Can Include as Required:

Language English
Categories: Federal News

President Declares Disaster for West Virginia

FEMA Region III News Releases - Thu, 05/14/2015 - 20:26

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency announced that federal disaster aid has been made available to the State of West Virginia to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by severe storms, flooding, landslides, and mudslides during the period of April 3-5, 2015. 

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President Declares Disaster for West Virginia

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 05/14/2015 - 20:26

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency announced that federal disaster aid has been made available to the State of West Virginia to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by severe storms, flooding, landslides, and mudslides during the period of April 3-5, 2015. 

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Categories: Federal News

June 13 Deadline for Severe Weather-related Unemployment Insurance

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 05/14/2015 - 15:30

 

FRANKFORT, Ky.  —  Officials from the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet and the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced today that 10 Kentucky counties have qualified for Disaster Unemployment Assistance.

 

Kentuckians in Bath, Bourbon, Carter, Elliott, Franklin, Jefferson, Lawrence, Madison, Rowan and Scott counties who have lost work or whose businesses were damaged due to severe weather that occurred from April 2 to April 17, 2015, may be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits.

 

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Categories: Federal News

Disaster Recovery Center To Open In Bourbon County

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 05/14/2015 - 15:25

FRANKFORT, Ky.  – A disaster recovery center operated by the commonwealth of Kentucky and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will open at noon Friday, May 15, in Bourbon County.

The center will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (EDT) Saturday through Friday, May 22. The Bourbon center is located at 525 High St. (Paris Municipal Service Building) in Paris.

Specialists from FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Administration will be on hand to answer questions and provide information on the types of assistance available to survivors.

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Categories: Federal News

Preliminary Wind Energy Impacts Assessment Methodology Released

USGS Newsroom Technical - Thu, 05/14/2015 - 11:54
Summary: USGS has released a preliminary methodology to assess the population level impacts of onshore wind energy development on birds and bats

Contact Information:

Alex Demas ( Phone: 703-648-4421 ); Jay Diffendorfer ( Phone: 303-236-5369 );



USGS has released a preliminary methodology to assess the population level impacts of onshore wind energy development on birds and bats.  This wind energy impacts assessment methodology is the first of its kind, evaluating national to regional scale impacts of those bats and birds that breed in and migrate through the United States.  The methodology focuses primarily on the effects of collisions between wildlife and turbines.

Primary uses of this new methodology, which is complementary to and incorporates detailed studies and demographic models USGS conducts on key species, include:

  • Quantitative measuring of the potential impacts to species’ populations through demographic modeling and the use of potential biologic removal methods.
  • Ranking species in terms of their direct and indirect relative risk to wind energy development.
  • Recommending species for more intensive demographic modeling or study.
  • Highlighting species for which the effects of wind energy development on their populations are projected to be small.

This new draft methodology is based on a robust quantitative and probabilistic framework used by the USGS in energy resource assessments. The assessment methodology also incorporates publicly available information on fatality incidents, population estimates, species range maps, turbine location data and biological characteristics.

The methodology includes a qualitative risk ranking component, as well as a generalized population modelling component. The USGS also repurposed a well-established marine mammal conservation method known as Potential Biological Removal.  This methodology identifies the maximum number of animals—not including natural deaths—that may be removed from a marine mammal population while allowing it to reach or maintain its optimum sustainable population.  The USGS uses the Potential Biological Removal tool to compare the observed fatalities from collisions with wind turbines to the estimated number of fatalities that can occur before a population would decline.

This methodology also builds on previous USGS research on wind energy, for example, the USGS WindFarm map, released early 2014, that shows the location of all land-based wind turbines in the United States.

Applying expertise in biology, ecology, mapping and resource assessment, the USGS has contributed to the Department of the Interior’s Powering Our Future Initiative with this methodology to quantify the impact of wind energy development on birds and bats.

Throughout the course of this project, USGS scientists have engaged in discussions with a variety of partners and stakeholders, such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Bureau of Land Management, Department of Energy, and Department of Defense, as well as industry, non-governmental organizations, and universities.  The USGS will now solicit technical comments on this methodology from an expert panel external to the USGS and will consider these comments in developing the final methodology.

Additional ongoing USGS research is focused on understanding potential impacts to wildlife species on a national, regional, and localized scale. Examples of these efforts include developing wildlife and mortality survey protocols, estimating causes and magnitude of fatalities, assessing population level effects, describing bird migration and movement patterns, understanding wildlife interactions with turbines, and developing technologies to reduce fatalities from interactions with turbines.

The new methodology can be accessed here. For more information about USGS wind energy impacts efforts, visit the USGS Energy Resources Program Web site or follow us on Twitter.

Division of Fish & Wildlife treating several downstate ponds for nuisance aquatic weeds

DNREC News - Thu, 05/14/2015 - 10:38
DOVER (May 14, 2015) – As inland water temperatures rise and aquatic plants emerge, DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife has started treating several downstate ponds for nuisance aquatic weeds.

DNREC's next scrap tire recycling drop-off set for Saturday, May 16 at Delaware State Fairgrounds

DNREC News - Thu, 05/14/2015 - 08:12
DOVER (May 7, 2015) – DNREC is rolling out another opportunity for Delaware residents to recycle their old tires at a Scrap Tire Drop-Off Day. The next event is scheduled from 8 a.m. - 2 p.m., rain or shine, Saturday, May 16 at the Delaware State Fairgrounds, 18500 S. DuPont Highway Harrington, DE 19952.

Monitoring for Potential Flooding in Texas

FEMA Press Releases - Wed, 05/13/2015 - 17:02

DENTON, Texas – People who live in Texas are urged to get ready now for the possibility of flooding, following days of rain and with more potential rain in the forecast.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Region 6 office continues to monitor the flooding threat across parts of the state and stands ready to support state and local partners as needed and requested in any affected areas.

Know Your Risk Before a Flood:

•    Do your homework. Be aware of the potential flooding risks for the particular area where you live.

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Categories: Federal News

Sussex man charged with felony reckless endangering and disorderly conduct in boating incident

DNREC News - Wed, 05/13/2015 - 15:41
DOVER (May 13, 2015) – DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officers arrested a Sussex County man May 11 on endangerment and other charges related to an incident in the Indian River Inlet where a vessel operator allegedly threw a filet knife that narrowly missed anglers and bystanders onshore. No injuries were reported.