“Since 1900, 123 freshwater animal species have been recorded as extinct in North America” (Ricciardi and Rasmussen 1220). That statistic represents an alarm for the future populations of freshwater mussels. Many action plans are in place to assist with assessing and promoting mussel populations. Scientists have successful laboratory propagation techniques for restoring some species’ populations. While other agencies are tackling the habitat loss, water pollution control and monitoring, and ecosystem improvement, human residents are taking more of an interest and demanding conservation. One way to accomplish that is to undergo natural restoration of impaired systems (Strayer et al 436). Of course, it will take years to generate more recruitment of mussels.
Additionally, recreational boating has undergone changes needed to prevent the spread of invasive species (Johnson et al 1789). The longevity, sedentary nature, and sensitivity of mussels to environmental changes makes them uniquely suited for long-term monitoring and for assessing the stability and health of waterbodies. Conservation of freshwater mussels will benefit from a better understanding of the biology of each species, and from population studies that determine age and size distribution, population density, condition, and habitat at multiple spatial scales. Modifications need to be implemented universally, so the declining mussel populations have more than a chance at the future. “The numbers of imperiled mussels in the United States and Canada portend a trajectory toward an extinction crisis that, unless dampened by prompt conservation action, may result in the complete loss of some genera and severe impoverishment of the richest freshwater mussel fauna in the world,” (Williams et al 22).
What will the future hold for mussels? Only time will tell…in the meantime, keep filtering mussels!
List of Visuals
- Freshwater pearl mussel , Swedish "Flodpärlmussla," from the river Navarån Västernorrland, Sweden.
- A dorsal view of a bivalve shell, drawn by Muriel Gottrop in May 2005.
Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia
- Water Flow in a Eulamellibranch bivalve (clam; phylum Mollusca)
Heather Kroening/A. Richard Palmer/Bio-DiTRL, © 2000
- Marine blue mussel, Mytilus edulis, showing some of the inner anatomy. The white posterior adductor muscle is visible in the upper image, and has been cut in the lower image to allow the valves to open fully.
Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia
- Larva of bivalve; North-West Black Sea, coastal waters, at a depth of 0.5 meters.
- Footage of the Wavy-rayed lampmussel (Lampsilis fasciola) from the Little Tennessee River in western North Carolina.
College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University/YouTube
- An Eastern lampmussel (Lampsilis radiata), found along the Atlantic Slope, pulses its lure upon detection of passing shadows. Its fleshy, exposed mantle may contribute to this hyper-sensitivity to light and shadow.
Aquatic Epidemiology and Conservation Laboratory/YouTube
- This is a time lapse of a glochidium becoming encysted on a fish fin. Glochidia are larval freshwater (unionid) mussels. These animals must spend this portion of their life cycle attached to a freshwater fish.
Galvez Laboratory, Louisiana State University/YouTube
- Life history of freshwater mussels. The bottom photo shows the fish "lure" displayed by a gravid female mussel to attract a host fish (Lampsilis reeveiana; photo courtesy of Chris Barnhart, Southwestern Missouri State College, Missouri). The lure of the female Higgins' eye pearlymussel is similar.
US Fish & Wildlife Service/YouTube
- Nick Rowse, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, searched the bottom of the Lower St. Croix River for zebra mussels, a small, prolific, non-native clam that's a mortal threat to the river's many native mussels.
Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service (2000), taken from ProQuest's eLibrary
- A short video clip from the 3rd Annual Mussel Festival held in Bath County, Virginia, to educate landowners and the public about the importance of these animals to rivers and streams.
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries/YouTube
- Zebra mussels also cover individual mussels; this fat mucket (Lampsilis siliquoidea) was removed from the bottom sediment by divers. All exposed areas were covered by zebra mussels.
US Fish & Wildlife Service
- Clammers standing atop a mound of mussels killed to make mother-of-pearl buttons, circa 1911
US Fish & Wildlife Service
- Propagation of Carolina Heelsplitter (Lasmigona decorata)
Aquatic Epidemiology and Conservation Laboratory, North Carolina State University/YouTube
- Zebra mussels sign, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. The non-native zebra mussel first appeared in Lough Neagh in 2005. The sign is beside the Sixmilewater close to where it enters Lough Neagh.
Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia
- International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Deputy Director General Bill Jackson talks about today's water challenges and explains how IUCN is working to make sure that there is enough water in the world for nature and for people.
International Union for Conservation of Nature/YouTube
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- Bates, John M. “The Impact of Impoundment on the Mussel Fauna of Kentucky Reservoir, Tennessee River.” The American Midland Naturalist 68.1 (1962). 232-236. Print.
- Brice, James. B. and Randall B. Lewis. “Mapping of Mussel (Unionidae) Communities in Large Streams.“ The American Midland Naturalist July 2004.
- Coker, R.E. “Fresh-water Mussels and Mussel Industries of the United States.” U.S. Bureau of Fisheries Bulletin 36 (1919): 13-89. Print.
- “Cooperative Program Ensures Safe Shellfish.” Fda.gov. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Web. 5 July 2011.
- Cummings, Kevin S. “Freshwater Mussel (Unionidae) Genera of the World.” inhs.uiuc.edu. Illinois Natural History Survey, Center for Biodiversity, Mollusks. Web. 19 July 2011.
- Diggins, T.P. and K.M. Stewart. “Evidence of Large Change in Unionid Mussel Abundance from Selective Muskrat Predation, as Inferred by Shell Remains Left on Shore.” International Review of Hydrobiology 58.4 (2000): 505-520. Print.
- Guitérrez, Jorge L. Clive G. Jones, David L. Strayer, and Oscar O. Iribarne.“Mollusks As Ecosystem Engineers: The Role of Shell Production in Aquatic Habitats.”Oikos (2003): 79-90. Print.
- Haag, Wendell R. and Andrew L. Rypel. “Growth and Longevity in Freshwater Mussels: Evolutionary and Conservation Implications.” Biological Reviews 86 (2011): 225 247. Print.
- Howard, Jeanette K. and Kurt M. Cuffey. “The Functional Role of Native Freshwater Mussels in the Fluvial Benthic Environment.” Freshwater Biology 51 (2006): 460-474. Print.
- Hunter, W. Russell. “3. Physiological Aspects of Ecology in Nonmarine Molluscs.” Physiology of Mollusca, Volume I. Eds. Karl M. Wilbur and C.M. Yonge. New York, NY: Academic Press, 1964. 83-117. Print.
- Johnson, Ladd E., Anthony Ricciardi, and James T. Carlton. “Overland Dispersal of Aquatic Invasive Species: A Risk Assessment of Transient Recreational Boating.” Ecological Applications 11.6 (2001) 1789-1799. Print.
- Lima, Paula, Uthaiwan Kovitvadhi, Satit Kovitvadhi, and Jorge Machado. “In vitro Culture of Glochidia from the Freshwater Mussel Anodonta cygenea.” Invertebrate Biology 125.1 (2006): 34-44. Print.
- Lydeard, Charles and Richard L. Mayden. “A Diverse and Endagered Aquatic Ecosystem of the Southeast United States.” Conservation Biology 9.4 (1995) 800-805. Print.
- McMahon, Robert F. and Arthur E. Bogan.“Chapter 11 Mollusca: Bivalvia.” Ecology and Classification of North American Freshwater Vertebrates. Eds. James H. Thorp and Alan P. Covich. San Diego, CA: Academic Press, 2001. 331-429. Print.
- McMurray, Stephen E., Guenter A. Schuester, and Barbara A. Ramey. “Recruitment in a Freshwater Unionid (Mollusca: Bivalvia) Community Downstream of Cave Run Lake in the Licking River, Kentucky.”American Malacological Bulletin
15.1 (1999): 57-63. Print.
- Morton, J.E. and C.M. Yonge. “1. Classification and Structure of Mollusca.” Physiology of Mollusca, Volume I. Eds. Karl M. Wilbur and C.M. Yonge. New York, NY: Academic Press, 1964. 1-40. Print.
- Mozley, Alan. “Distribution and its Limits.”An Introduction to Molluscan Ecology. London, England: H. K. Lewis & Co. Ltd., 1954. 1-36. Print.
- Nichols, S.J. and D. Garling.“Food-Web Dynamics and Trophic-Level Interactions in Multispecies Community of Freshwater Unionids.”Canadian Journal of Zoology 78.5 (2000): 871-882. Print..
- Parmalee, Paul W. and Walter E. Klippel.“Freshwater Mussels as Prehistoric Food Resource.” American Antiquity 39.3 (1974): 421-434. Print.
- Rehder, Harald A. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Seashells. New York, NY: Knopf, 1981. 1-14; 845-853. Print.
- Ricciardi, Anthony and Joseph B. Rasmussen.“Extinction Rates of North American Freshwater Fauna.”Conservation Biology 13.5. (1999):1220-1222. Print.
- Ruppert, Edward E. Richard S. Fox, and Robert D. Barnes. Eds. “Chapter 12 Mollusca.” Invertebrate Zoology: A Functional Evolutionary Approach. 7th Ed. New York, NY: Brooks Cole, 2003. 283-412. Print.
- Strayer, David L., Dean C. Hunter, Lane C. Smith, and Christopher C. Borg. “Distribution, Abundance, and Roles of Freshwater Clams (Bivalvia,Unionidae) in the Freshwater Tidal Hudson River.” Freshwater Biology 31.2 (1994) 239-248. Web. 2 August 2011.
- Strayer, David L. “Effects of Alien Species on Freshwater Mollusks in North America.” Journal of North American Benthological Society 18.1 (1999) 74-90. Print.
- Strayer, David L. John A. Downing, Wendell R. Haag, Timothy L. King, James B. Layzer, Teresa J. Newton, and S. Jerrine Nichols.“Changing Perspectives on Pearly Mussels, North America’s Most Imperiled Animals.” BioScience 34.5 (2004): 429-439 Print.
- Vaughn, Caryn C. and Christine C. Hakenkamp.“The Functional Role of Burrowing Bivalves in Freshwater Ecosystems.” Freshwater Biology 46 (2001): 1431-1446. Print.
- Vaughn, Caryn C., S. Jerrine Nichols, and Daniel E. Spooner. “Community and Foodweb Ecology of Freshwater Mussels.” Journal of North American Benthological Society 27.2 (2008): 409-423. Print.
- Voshell, J. Reese. “Mussels and Clams.” A Guide to Common Freshwater Invertebrates of North America. Blacksburg, VA: McDonald & Woodward Publishing Co., 2002. 207-232. Print.
- Weber, Eckhard. “Population Size and Structure of Three Mussel Species (Bivalvia: Unionidae) in a Northeastern German River with Special Regard to Influences of Environmental Factors.” Hydrobiologia 537 (2005): 169-183. Print.
- Wetzel, Robert G. “Benthic Animals and Fish Communities.”Limnology. 3rd Ed. San Diego, CA: Academic Press, 2001. 691-695. Print.
- Williams, James D., Melvin L. Warren, Jr., Kevin S. Cummings, John L. Harris, and Richard J. Neves.“Conservation Status of Freshwater Mussels of the United States and Canada.” Fisheries 18.9 (1992): 6-22. Print.
- Uryu, Yumiko, Keiji Iwasaki and Masami Hinoue. “Laboratory Experiments on Behaviour and Movement of a Freshwater Mussel, Limnoperna fortune (Dunker).” Journal of Molluscan Studies 62.3 (1996): 327-341. Print.