Conservation of Native Freshwater Mussels: An Overview

Thomas Hayes
Member, AZA Aquatic Invertebrates Taxonomy Advisory Group, Pittsburgh Zoo, One Wild Place, Pittsburgh, PA 15206.


There are approximately 300 recognized species of native freshwater mussels (Unionids) in the United States.  The survival of native mussels is at risk for several reasons.  Little concern, however, has been generated due to lack of knowledge and public appeal.  Freshwater mussels serve many purposes, including indicators of water quality.  The importance of native freshwater mussels is gradually being recognized through education, research, and conservation.  Recent conservation efforts focus on the restoration of mussel habitats and the controversial reintroduction of native species.

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