Mussel Survey Guidelines and Protocols

Various states and US Fish and Wildlife regions have developed standard mussel survey and translocation guidelines or protocols and fewer have guidelines for gastropod surveys. Adherence to these survey protocols may be required in order to obtain a scientific collectors permit from the state or USFWS if ESA listed species are involved. The table below provides examples of what some regulatory entities require when mussel surveys are requested as part of an environmental review of a proposed project. The referenced documents provided here are for informational purposes only and the relevant state or federal permitting authority should be consulted for site and project specific information. The information is also provided for those who may be in the process of developing their own protocols or guidelines and are interested in reviewing what other states/regions have developed.

We encourage states and federal agencies with regulatory authority regarding mollusk survey guidelines or protocols to contact Mary McCANN ( or the FMCS committee chairs Ryan SCHEWGMAN ( and Lisie KITCHEL ( with any new or updated survey protocols, survey qualification requirements, or contact information that can be shared on this website.

West Virgina West Virginia Mussel Survey Protocols - Updated 2018 Click here for link to VW DNR site and Survey Protocols PDFs West Virginia Division of Natural Resources
US Fish and Wildlife Service
Janet L. Clayton (WVDNR)
Barbara Douglas (USFWS)
304-636-6568 (x19)
Virgina Freshwater Mussel Guidelines for Virginia – DRAFT - Last Updated: 9-4-13 Click here for link to PDF U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Virginia Field Office (804-693-6694)
Virginia Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries (804-367-1000)
Tennessee 2012 Working Draft Tenneessee and Cumberland River Mussel Survey Protocol where dredging/disposal/development activity is proposed.
Third Edition (December 2014)
Click here for link to PDF Modified from the Ohio River Protocol, Developed by the Ohio River Valley Ecosystem Mollusk Subgroup Don Hubbs
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency
Ohio Ohio Mussel Survey Protocol – April 2020 Click here for link to PDF Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Ohio Ecological Services Field Office
Angela Boyer
614-416-8993, ext. 22
Illinois Investigating Mussel Communities in Wadeable Illinois Streams. Appendix A.
Protocol for Surveying Freshwater Mussels in Wadeable Streams and Wadeable Portions of Large Rivers December, 2002
Click here for link to PDF

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Wisconsin State of Wisconsin Guidelines for Sampling Freshwater Mussels in Wadable Streams

Wisconsin DNR Mussel Relocation Protocol
Click here for link to PDF

Click here for link to PDF
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Lisie Kitchel (Conservation Biologist WDNR/Natural Heritage Conservation)
Only individuals who have been tested and approved by the DNR will be permitted to conduct mussel survey or relocation projects
Click here for link to PDF MN DNR, Div of Ecological and Water Resources
USFWS, Twin Cities Field Office
Richard Baker
Lisa Joyal
Indiana Guidelines for Sampling Freshwater Mussels in Indiana Third Edition (December 2014) Click here for link to PDF Indiana Department of Natural Resources Brant Fisher, IDNR
New York New York State Freshwater Mussel Survey Guidelines for Waterbody Disturbance Projects

Click here for link to PDF
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Corbin Gosier
Bureau of Ecosystems Health, NYSDEC

Natalie Sacco
Bureau of Fisheries, NYSDEC
Massachusetts Endangered Species Survey Guidelines: Freshwater Mussels – May 2013

Endangered Species Habitat Assessment Guidelines: Freshwater Mussels (May 2013)

Endangered Species Translocation Guidelines: Freshwater Mussels (May 2013)
Survey: Click here for link to PDF

Habitat: Click here for link to PDF

Translocation: Click here for link to PDF
MA - NHESP Dr. Peter Hazelton (MA – NHESP)
Michigan Michigan Freshwater Mussel Survey Protocols and Relocation Procedures - May 2021
Click here for link to PDF    
Pennsylvania The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has updated their website providing information on lists of qualified freshwater mussel surveyors and the qualifications need to be qualified to conduct mussel surveys.

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service – PA Field Office. Mussel Survey Guidelines.
Surveyor Requirements:
Click here for link to PDF

Qualified Surveyor Application
Click here

East Surveyors: Click here for PDF

West Surveyors: Click here for PDF
Nevin Welte, PA F&G
Florida and Georgia Freshwater Mussel Survey Protocol for the Southeastern Atlantic Slope and Northeastern Gulf Drainages in Florida and Georgia – April 2008 Click here for link to PDF United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecological Services and Fisheries Resources Offices
Georgia Department of Transportation, Office of Environment and Location
Stacey Carlson, Alice Lawrence, Holly Blalock-Herod, Katie McCafferty, and Sandy Abbott
Western US Freshwater Mussel Guidelines - September 2018 Click here Xeres Society for Invertebrate Conservation Emilie Blevins, Laura McMullen, Sarina Jepsen, Michele Blackburn, Aimée Code, and Scott Hoffman Black
Pacific Northwest Freshwater Mussel Relocation Guidelines - September 2009 Click here for link to PDF C. Luzier and S. Miller
USDA Forest Service Region 6 and USDI Bureau of Land Management, Oregon and Washington Survey Protocol for Aquatic Mollusk Species: Preliminary Inventory & Presence/Absence Sampling Version 3.1 — July 2008 Click here for link to PDF Nancy Duncan
Ontario, Canada

Protocol for the Detection and Relocation of Freshwater Mussel Species at Risk in Ontario Great Lake Area (OGLA) - 2008

Click here for link to PDF Canadian Manuscript Report of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 2790 G. Mackie, T.J. Morris, and D. Ming