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Steven Brownlee

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Exploring the potential establishment, spread and impacts of dreissenid mussels in BC


Broadly speaking I am interested in the patterns and processes driving the distributions, life histories and ecological roles of freshwater mussels. During my undergraduate degree I worked on a project to model the habitat requirements and identify the host fish of the Rocky Mountain ridged mussel, a species of unionid mussel native to the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia. I expanded on this experience in geospatial analysis during my master’s degree, where I worked to quantify the reproductive niches occupied by sockeye in British Columbia’s Alouette Lake by using remotely sensed habitat information to inform a suitability model derived from field observations of spawning sockeye.

My graduate research project applies both of these skill sets to a pressing issue for the conservation of freshwater systems in North America: the ongoing invasion of zebra and quagga mussels. These ecosystem engineers have a major negative impact on the functioning of lake and river systems they are introduced to and have continued to steadily spread across North America since their initial invasion. I hope to use remotely sensed data sources as well as field observations to model the potential routes of introduction that these mussels could follow in British Columbia as well as their potential spread post-introduction and the impacts they might have on the province’s lakes and rivers.

Current website (



Twitter: @sfbrownlee

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