Mussel Community Assessment Tool (MCAT) Development and Validation

2010 – Present

EcoAnalysts worked with USGS, Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center Biologists to development a tool to assess the health of mussel communities in the Upper Mississippi River. The first phase included compiling quantitative mussel data from 25 studies conducted by EcoAnalysts into a common format, calculating a series of 46 metrics, and evaluating metrics for redundancy and ecological relevance. Ten metrics were selected in five broad categories: conservation status and environmental sensitivity, taxonomic composition, population processes, abundance, and diversity. The objectives of the second phase were to determine if these metrics accurately reflected professional judgment and evaluate temporal variation in mussel assemblage metrics at individual sites. Metrics were evaluated using a Delphi Technique. Agency personnel familiar with mussels throughout the UMR evaluated a randomly selected set of sites. A workshop was held to discuss results. Agencies then provided additional data sets (scored a priori) to evaluate with the MCAT. We also evaluated sites with multiple data years using the MCAT. Metrics seemed to reflect professional judgment and score sites consistently over time.