Edward Curley

PhD Candidate


School of Geographical and Earth Sciences

Univeristy of Glasgow

East Quadrangle

Room 417


Telephone: +44 (0) 7392234684

Email: e.curley.1@research.gla.ac.uk


Research title: Investigating the impact of hydrodynamics on the behaviour of the endangered freshwater pearl mussel using field and laboratory approaches

Research Summary

Research Title

Investigating the impact of hydrodynamics on the behaviour of the endangered freshwater pearl mussel

Summary of Research

The primary focus of this research will be to understand the effects of flow regime on the endangered freshwater pearl mussel (M.margatitifera). The study will look at the impacts of alterations in flow regime - as a result of hydropower schemes and future climate scenarios - on the associated ecology and geomorphology of freshwater systems; and how such knowledge may aid conservation of the mussel species.

In particular, the project will focus on the following objectives.

  1. To undertake a comprehensive analysis of all related published work. By studying the body of literature concerning M. margaritifera, this research will elucidate where the gaps in knowledge lie; thus, enabling the project to focus research more effectively towards areas urgently requiring empirical research.  
  2. To investigate how modifications to particular environment parameters evoke changes to the mussel’s functional behaviour and utilisation of the freshwater environment, in a laboratory setting. By isolating particular hydrological and physico-chemical environmental drivers, this research will aim to ascertain whether common behavioural responses exist, and if these can be used as a non-invasive means of inferring when mussels are stressed, for use in future field studies.
  3. The third component of the project will aim to expand the laboratory studies into the natural habitat of M. margaritifera. This field-work will aim to produce habitat suitability curves based on detailed empirical data such as flow regime, near-bed velocities, shear stress and redox potential. Additionally, unique field-based flow manipulation of regulated rivers will be undertaken to monitor response of mussels to changing flows and sediment in their natural habitat – facilitated through a partnership with SSE.
  4. To establish links with relevant governmental, academic, industrial and regulatory bodies, and provide a platform to promote open dialogue and active collaboration between these stakeholders, and to elicit holistic governance of the freshwater environments for more effective conservation of the associated ecology. 


Curley, E.A., Rowley, H.E. and Speed, M.P., 2015. A field demonstration of the costs and benefits of group living to edible and defended prey. Biology letters, 11(6), p.20150152.