Senior Honors Projects, 2010-2019

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation

Spring 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)


Department of Mathematics and Statistics


Anthony Tongen


The James Spinymussel (Pleurobema collina) is an endangered mussel species at the top of Virginia’s conservation list. The James Spinymussel plays a critical role in the environment by filtering and cleaning stream water while providing shelter and food for macroinvertebrates; however, conservation efforts are complicated by the mussels’ burrowing behavior, camouflage, and complex life cycle. The goals of the research conducted were to estimate detection probabilities that could be used to predict species presence and facilitate field work, and to track individually marked mussels to test for habitat preferences. Using existing literature and mark-recapture field data, these goals were accomplished by evaluating matrix population models, odds of detection based on environmental factors, dispersion type, and clustering trends. These results serve as the foundation of mathematical models used to aid in the recovery of the James Spinymussel and other cryptic species with sparse populations.



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