Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Pearly Mussels: One of North America’s Natural Jewels is Disappearing

13.05.2004


Eastern floater mussels are abundant in lakes and ponds throughout the Northeastern United States. The below illustration is from The Pearly Mussels of the New York State, written by David Strayer



If you have spent time boating or fishing in freshwater, there is a good chance you have encountered a pearly mussel. Elliptical in shape, with iridescent inner shells, humans have appreciated the animals since prehistoric times. Coveted for their pearls and mother-of-pearl shells; their meat has been a resource for both humans and wildlife. In a BioScience paper published this week, a team of scientists report that something troubling has been happening in our nation’s freshwaters— once-abundant pearly mussels are disappearing from the landscape.

Written by a team of seven mussel experts, the paper concludes that, "Many pearly mussel populations have a negative growth rate and are likely to disappear unless environmental conditions change." To protect the animals, the authors urge simultaneous research and conservation actions, among them increased research on mussel biology and the protection of mussel habitat.

Though humans have been interacting with mussels for millennia, there are large gaps in our understanding of their life history and the role they play in freshwater ecosystems. Lead author Dr. David L. Strayer, a freshwater ecologist at the Institute of Ecosystem Studies, remarks, "Pearly mussels are imperiled by human activities, such as pollution, dam construction, and channelization. Dozens of species are already extinct and well over a hundred species are in danger of disappearing. For many mussel species, without intervention, future populations will be limited to specimens in museum drawers."



Unique and highly specialized animals, mussels begin life as larvae before spending their adulthood as sedentary bivalves. Larvae, which are microscopic in size, parasitize a fish host before settling to the bottom of a freshwater ecosystem. Very specific in their choice of host, some mussels use elaborate lures to attract the correct fish species. In adulthood, pearly mussels act as filter feeders, eating plankton and other small particles of food suspended in the water.

Long-lived animals, most species live for decades. Currently, little is known about either mussel diets or the fascinating relationship between larvae and their fish hosts. As mussel beds decline in size, ecologists still don’t know the role that they play or what their absence might mean for the functioning of modern river ecosystems.

The loss of pearly mussels is especially troubling because, as long-lived aquatic organisms, they have the potential to reveal a world of information about the freshwater habitats they reside in. If we are to ensure mussels persist in the future, Dr. Strayer stresses, "We need to strengthen our understanding of their basic biology while minimizing human activities that have a known negative effect on populations. At the same time, we need to investigate how more subtle human activities, such as agriculture and suburbanization, impact freshwater systems."

Lori M. Quillen | Institute of Ecosystem Studies
Further information:
http://www.ecostudies.org/press/pearly_mussels.html

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Bioinvasion on the rise
15.02.2017 | Universität Konstanz

nachricht Litter Levels in the Depths of the Arctic are On the Rise
10.02.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

From rocks in Colorado, evidence of a 'chaotic solar system'

23.02.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

'Quartz' crystals at the Earth's core power its magnetic field

23.02.2017 | Earth Sciences

Antimicrobial substances identified in Komodo dragon blood

23.02.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>