Understanding the effects of flow alteration on freshwater ecosystems is critical for predicting species responses and restoring appropriate flow regimes. We experimentally evaluated the effects of 3 dewatering rates on behavior of 6 freshwater mussel species in the context of water-removal rates observed in 21 Atlantic Coast rivers. Horizontal movement differed significantly among species and dewatering rates, but a significant species × dewatering interaction suggested that these factors influence movement in complex ways. Species differences in movement were evident only in controls and under slow dewatering rates, but these differences disappeared at moderate and fast dewatering rates. Burrowing behavior did not differ with respect to species identity or dewatering rate. The proportion of individuals that became stranded did not differ among species, but most individuals became stranded under low and moderate dewatering, and all individuals became stranded under fast dewatering. Mortality after stranding differed strongly among species along a gradient from 25% inPyganodon cataracta to 92% in Alasmidonta marginata. Together, these results suggest that species behavior may differ under gradual dewatering, but all species in our study are poorly adapted for rapid dewatering. Most of the 21 rivers we assessed experienced dewatering events comparable to our moderate rate, and several experienced events comparable to our fast rate. Dewatering events that exceed the movement or survival capability of most mussel species can be expected to result in assemblage-wide impacts. Consequently, the rate of water level change may be important in refining target flow conditions for restoration.