In May, Jenna Odegard, Aquatic Ecologist, became state certified to perform freshwater mussel surveys in Group 1 and 3 streams. Freshwater mussels are among the most endangered organisms in North America due to their sensitivity to aquatic pollution, especially sedimentation of river systems. Because of their cryptic lifestyle (both camouflaged and benthic), their diversity and distribution in Ohio waterways is poorly defined. If projects include proposed alterations/impacts to streams, a mussel reconnaissance survey should be performed to determine their presence or probable absence from the stream. If necessary, Jenna can relocate mussels as a means to preserve local populations.
This fall, Jenna led her first full mussel survey and relocation (accompanied by Restoration Specialist, Jim Palus and intern, Kate Gorman) in Lake Erie. A drysuit and full face mask protected Jenna and Jim from contact with lake water reported to have high levels of Microcystis, a toxin-producing cyanobacteria. Several giant floater mussels (Pyganodon grandis) were observed within the study area and safely relocated outside the project footprint.
A long-time passion of Jenna’s has been identifying aquatic macroinvertebrates. She specialized in macroinvertebrate identification during her master’s program at the Ohio State University. In July, after sampling three stream sites, she earned her Level 3 Qualified Data Collector certification (sample collection and data analysis) from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. This certification allows her to head studies for needed for technical biotic inventories and will be recognized as credible by the EPA.