SEPI’s lead aquatic biologist has experience throughout the Carolinas and is permitted to conduct surveys for freshwater mussels, fish, crayfish, and the Neuse River Waterdog. Example projects where these services may be needed include road improvements, bridge replacements, sewer conveyance crossings, water intake/discharge systems, and stream restoration for state, municipal, and private industries. Our staff is SCUBA certified with experience in freshwater lake and rivers throughout the southeast.
Chris Sheats, Biological Surveys Lead
The southeast has the greatest diversity of freshwater mussels in the United States and many species are extinct or critically imperiled due to habitat loss and pollution. In North Carolina there are several species of freshwater mussels that may need to be addressed for your project including but not limited to Appalachian elktoe (Alasmidonta raveneliana), dwarf wedgemussel (Alasmidonta heterodon), Tar River spinymussel (Parvaspina steinstansana), James River spinymussel (Parvaspina collina), Carolina heelsplitter (Lasmigona decorata), yellow lance (Elliptio lanceolata), Atlantic pigtoe (Fusconaia masoni), and green floater (Lasmigona subviridis).
Our staff is equipped to conduct surveys for all freshwater fish species throughout the state of North Carolina. The Carolina madtom (Noturus furiosus) is a small catfish species found only in the Tar and Neuse River basins. It’s listed as “Proposed Endangered” under the ESA. These fish are predators that will ambush prey by hiding under rocks, debris such as leafpacks and sticks, trash (especially bottles and cans), and even old mussel shells. This species relies on its camouflage for protection. Snorkeling and view-bottom buckets (bathiscopes) are effective ways to survey for this species; with these methods, surveyors move slowly upstream, looking under rocks, debris, bottles and cans found in the stream.
The Neuse River Waterdog is a salamander species that spends its entire life in water. This species is listed as “Proposed Threatened” under the ESA. This fully aquatic salamander is only found in the Tar and Neuse River basins. Similar to the Carolina madtom, this species uses habitat such as cobble, leaf packs and woody debris. Survey methodology entails establishing a series of minnow traps within the vicinity of the project footprint. Traps are baited and checked for several consecutive days.
Benthic macroinvertebrates (BMI) play an important role in monitoring water quality. SEPI staff is trained in sampling benthic macroinvertebrates and has experience in all ecoregions of the state. Benthic macroinvertebrate community monitoring, using the Index for Biotic Integrity (IBI) score, is one metric that can be used for determining stream restoration success.