Dwarf Wedgemussel Propagation and Restoration in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern US

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Dwarf Wedgemussel Propagation and Restoration in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern US

The federally endangered dwarf wedgemussel (Alasmidonta heterodon) is a native species of freshwater mussels whose populations are rapidly declining.  Because of the important role freshwater mussels can play in stream ecosystems (e.g., improving water quality, providing habitat), many agencies are interested in freshwater mussel conservation and restoration. To do so, however, requires an understanding of each species habitat needs, fish host densities, and genetic structure of existing populations. Partners from the USGS Leetown Science Center Northern Appalachian Research Laboratory, the USGS Massachusetts Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife are working together to develop in vitro propagation and culture techniques of the dwarf wedgemussel, assess potential locations for dwarf wedgemussel reintroduction, and evaluate the genetic structure of existing populations to preserve genetic diversity of the species.

 

Dwarf wedgemussel DNA sample collection

Research Biologist Heather Galbraith collecting DNA samples from the endangered dwarf wedgemussel (Alasmidonta heterodon).

(Credit: Carrie Blakeslee, USGS Leetown Science Center. Public domain.)

 

Dwarf wedgemussel (Alasmidonta heterodon) filter feeding in its natural habitat in the Delaware River

The dwarf wedgemussel is one of over one hundred federally endangered freshwater mussel species found in the United States.

(Credit: Jeffrey Cole, USGS Leetown Science Center. Public domain.)

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