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: May 10, 2017
Status: Active

The effects of 28-day exposure to elevated C02 on survival, growth and condition of the juvenile life stage of Lampsilis siliquoidea and Lampsilis higginsii mussels

In study AEH-14-COr02, Lampsilis siliquoidea juveniles were exposed to four treatments of CO2, ranging from 43 to 266 mg/L, for 28 days, followed by 17 days post-exposure in untreated water. The resultant median lethal concentration of CO2 that caused 50% mortality (LC50) was 78 ±13 mg/L. The targeted field concentration of a CO2 barrier is 70-80 mg/L. The present study intends to repeat the...

Contacts: Diane Waller
Date published: May 10, 2017
Status: Active

Evaluation of lethal and sublethal responses of dreissenid and unionid mussels to elevated carbon dioxide

Control technology for dreissenid mussels currently relies heavily on chemical molluscicides that can be both costly and ecologically harmful. There is a need to develop more environmentally neutral control tools to manage dreissenid mussels. Carbon dioxide has shown toxicity to several species of invasive bivalves, including zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) and the Asian clam (Corbicula...

Contacts: Diane Waller