Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center

Native Mussels

West Newton Chute Native Mussel Story Map 

This story map portrays spatial and temporal patterns in native freshwater mussel (Unionioida) assemblage within West Newton Chute, a side channel in navigation Pool 5 of the Upper Mississippi River. Spatial and temporal patterns in species richness and density of three life stages and multiple guilds in this mussel assemblage were explored.

News: Minnesota's native mussels: Still in peril, but signs of hope

Freshwater mussels are among the most fascinating, widespread, and endangered animals in fresh waters. Mussels perform important roles in river ecosystems, such as filtering large amounts of water and associated sediments which improves water clarity, alters water chemistry, and regulates the amounts and kinds of particles in the water. Mussels also increase species diversity by creating habitat for aquatic insects and fish. Algae and macroinvertebrates rely on mussels to convert food and waste products in the water column, like nutrients, into beneficial forms for animals living on the river bottom.

However, overharvesting, widespread habitat destruction, pollution, land-use change, and exotic species introductions have caused many freshwater mussel populations to decline or disappear. In the past 50 years about 20 mussel species have been lost from the Upper Mississippi River (UMR) basin (Havlik and Sauer 2000). Native mussels serve as an indicator of water and sediment quality, much like canaries did for the coal mines, and declines signal a potential deterioration in the health of our riverine community.

Our long-term goal is to conserve and restore healthy freshwater mussel populations in the UMR basin and elsewhere. This focus is largely derived from conversations with resource managers who have expressed the following short-term needs:

  • Identify factors limiting the distribution and abundance of freshwater mussels in the UMR basin to provide managers with conservation and restoration procedures and strategies. This currently includes a focus on:
    • Identifying suitable habitat for mussels
    • Identifying food sources and critical dietary needs for mussels
  • Determine the status of the mussel community in the Upper Mississippi River
  • Evaluate the effects of habitat rehabilitation projects on native mussel populations
Filter Total Items: 26
Date published: January 17, 2020
Status: Active

Effects of Carbon Dioxide on Non-Target Organisms

Invasive Carp Control: Carbon Dioxide

Chemical controls are a vital component of many effective Integrated Pest Management plans. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is being evaluated as a new fishery chemical for invasive carps...

Date published: July 23, 2018
Status: Active

Avoidance behavior of cold-, cool-, and warmwater fish exposed to Zequanox in a two-choice preference chamber

Zebra (Dreissenia polymorpha, Pallas 1771) and quagga (D. bugensis, Andrusov 1897) mussels, collectively referred to as dreissenid mussels, are invasive bivalves native to the Ponto-Caspian region of Eurasia (Stepien et al. 2013; Benson 2018a). High fecundity and a free-swimming planktonic life stage allow for easy and rapid dispersal of dreissenid mussels (Mackie 1991;...

Contacts: James Luoma
Date published: February 27, 2018
Status: Active

Evaluation of the toxicity of niclosamide to two fresh water mussel species and larval sea lampreys (Petromyzon marinus) when exposed to granular Bayluscide

Niclosamide (5-chloro-N-[2-chloro-4-nitrophenyl]-2-hydroxybenzamide; NIC) is the active ingredient in the 3.2% granular formulation of Bayluscide® (gB). is applied to assess populations of Sea Lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) larva that are too deep to electro fish or remove larva in habitats and too large to treat with liquid formulations of lampricides in a cost effective manner.  Concerns...

Date published: February 27, 2018
Status: Active

Assessment of Open Water Zequanox Applications for Controlling Dreissenid Mussels within an Inland Lake

Invasion of dreissenid mussels (zebra and quagga mussels, Dreissena polymorpha and D. rostriformis bugensis, respectively) into the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Basins has resulted in estimated economic impacts as high as $1 billion annually for maintenance and repair of biofouled water conveyance systems and other infrastructures (Pimentel et al. 2005). 

Contacts: James Luoma
Date published: February 6, 2018
Status: Active

Spatial Patterns of Native Freshwater Mussels in the Upper Mississippi River

Impact of UMESC Science

This research aims to quantify spatial patterns of adult and juvenile (≤5 y of age) freshwater mussels across multiple scales based on systematic survey data from 4 reaches of the Upper Mississippi River (Navigation Pools 3, 5, 6, and 18). Resource managers can use this critical information about spatial structure to make informed river management decisions.   ...

Contacts: Teresa J Newton
Date published: July 20, 2017
Status: Active

Distribution and Controls Over Habitat and Food Web Structures and Processes in Great Lakes Estuaries

Rivermouth ecosystems, or freshwater estuaries, are the focus of human and wildlife interactions with the Great Lakes. They are highly valued as the region’s urban, industrial, shipping and recreational centers; and home to recreational harbors, wildlife viewing and production, beaches and urban riverfronts. Rivermouths are also both the mixing zones where nutrients from upstream watersheds...

Date published: July 18, 2017
Status: Active

River Productivity

Biological production represents the total amount of living material (biomass) that was produced during a defined period of time. This production is important because some of it is used for food and some is valued for recreation, it is a direct measure of total ecosystem processes, and it sustains biological diversity. Production is a measure of energy flow, and is therefore a natural currency...

Date published: July 3, 2017
Status: Completed

Movement Patterns of Native Mussels in the Upper Mississippi River: Response to Water Level Management

Impact of UMESC Science

This research aims to estimate the fraction of mussels that are able to avoid short-term mortality during a water level drawdown by burrowing or moving horizontally into deeper water. Resource managers can use this critical information about mussel behavior and survival to make informed river management decisions.   

Contacts: Teresa J Newton
Date published: June 13, 2017
Status: Active

Population Assessment and Potential Functional Roles of Native Mussels in the Upper Mississippi River

Impact of UMESC Science

The results of this study suggest that native mussels play an integral role in this ecosystem by sequestering large volumes of suspended materials that can be used by other benthic organisms.
 

Managers now have critical data on population size, distribution, and relative health—these data are being used to guide habitat restoration activities to...

Contacts: Teresa J Newton
Date published: June 8, 2017
Status: Active

Modeling the Response of Imperiled Freshwater Mussels to Anthropogenically Induced Changes in Water Temperature, Habitat, and Flow in Streams of the Southeastern and Central United States

Freshwater mussels are in serious global decline and urgently need protection and conservation.  Declines in the abundance and diversity of North American mussels have been attributed to a wide array of human activities that cause pollution, water-quality degradation, and habitat destruction.  Recent findings suggest that many mussel species are already living close to their upper thermal...

Contacts: Teresa J Newton
Date published: June 8, 2017
Status: Active

Comparison of Native Mussel Assemblages Among Three Reaches of the Upper Mississippi River

In the past century about 20 mussel species have become extinct from the Upper Mississippi River (UMR) basin, and at least 28 species are state or federally listed.  The species composition appears to have changed considerably from pre-European settlement times toward communities dominated by mussels that are tolerant of pollution and can utilize many different types of habitats.  River...

Contacts: Teresa J Newton
Date published: May 10, 2017
Status: Active

Transformation methods for the glochidia of the spectaclecase mussel Cumberlandia monodonta

The spectaclecase mussel, Cumberlandia monodonta, was effectively listed as federally endangered in April 2012 (https://federalregister.gov/a/2012-5603).   It is endemic to the Mississippi, Ohio and Missouri River basins and historically inhabited 44 streams in these basins (USFWS 2014). Currently, the species is known to inhabit 20 of the...

Contacts: Diane Waller