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Individual Highlight

Assessment of conservation strategies for North American freshwater mussels.

Photo of A plain pocketbook mussel (Lampsilis cardium) with the lure it uses to draw fish close enough to deposit larvae in their gills as part of its unique reproductive cycle. Wendell Haag, USDA Forest ServiceA plain pocketbook mussel (Lampsilis cardium) with the lure it uses to draw fish close enough to deposit larvae in their gills as part of its unique reproductive cycle. Wendell Haag, USDA Forest ServiceSnapshot : North America has the most diverse freshwater mussel fauna on Earth, but over half of the 300 native species are in danger of extinction. Extensive conservation efforts in the last 30 years have addressed this extinction crisis. A Forest Service scientist critically assessed the effectiveness of those efforts and outlined ways that conservation can be more effective in the future.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Haag, Wendell R. 
Research Location : North America
Research Station : Southern Research Station (SRS)
Year : 2014
Highlight ID : 706

Summary

North America has the most diverse freshwater mussel fauna on Earth, but about 30 species have become extinct in the last 100 years and over half of the remaining fauna is in danger of extinction. As filter feeders, mussels are an integral component of freshwater ecosystems, and they have a large, positive benefit on water quality. In the last 30 years, recognition of this extinction crisis prompted concerted conservation efforts from state, federal, and tribal agencies, academia, and non-governmental conservation organizations. The effectiveness of these efforts has not been evaluated previously in a comprehensive fashion. Forest Service scientist Wendell Haag, along with collaborator James Williams at the University of Florida, was invited to provide an assessment of mussel conservation strategies for inclusion a special issue of the journal Hydrobiologia, which represented the proceedings of the International Meeting on the Biology and Conservation of Freshwater Bivalves, Bragan├ža, Portugal, September 2012. The paper, published May 2014, critically assessed the effectiveness of mussel conservation efforts and outlined ways that conservation can be more effective in the future. It will promote international dialogue about strategies for conservation of mussels and protection of the integrity of freshwater ecosystems.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

 
  • Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental Research, University of Porto, Rua dos Bragas, Portugal.
  • U.S. Geological Survey
  • University of Florida