The team of biologists, led by Jeremy Tiemann, of the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS), traveled to the site of a bridge-replacement project on Pennsylvania’s Allegheny River to collect northern riffleshell (Epioblasma rangiana) and clubshell (Pleurobema clava) mussels. The INHS is a division of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois.
Photo courtesy: Jeremy Tiemann
A team of biologists, headed by Jeremy Tiemann of the Illinois Natural History Survey, transported two endangered freshwater mussel species, the northern riffleshell (Epioblasma rangiana) and clubshell (Pleurobema clava, pictured), from Pennsylvania to Illinois.
The two mussel species historically had inhabited the Ohio River Basin, an area that stretches from Illinois to Pennsylvania and New York to Kentucky. The 2- to 3-inch-long northern riffleshells and their larger clubshell counterparts make their homes three or more inches beneath the surface of the gravel layer they live in, Tiemann said.
There are more than 30,000 individual mussels of these species living under Pennsylvania’s Hunter Station Bridge. The bridge-replacement project brings with it the potential for huge losses of the already endangered species, he said.
Mussels reproduce by attaching their juveniles to certain species of fish, so finding a suitable habitat for them can be a challenge. The northern riffleshell was “last seen alive in Illinois about a hundred years ago,” Tiemann said. There are sites on the Vermillion River in Illinois that serve as the perfect backdrop for the re-establishment of populations in the species’ historical range, he said.
“It is a win-win situation for everybody,” Tiemann said. “We save the mussels and get a new population here in Illinois.”
The team collected the mussels over a two-day period in late August, and then brought them to their lab in Illinois to be tagged with a “microchip similar to what you put in your dog or cat. (It’s) the size of a large grain of rice,” Tiemann said.
Last year, the group collected and transported 1,000 northern riffleshells and 200 clubshells. The team has seen an 80 percent survivorship within this group.
This year, they transported 750 clubshell and 250 northern riffleshell mussels.
The benefit of the project stretches beyond simply removing these species from the endangered list. Mussels have “their own little niche within the ecosystem and food webs” of their habitats, Tiemann said. Their shells provide a home for many fish and insects. They also are effective biofilters that help clean the water.
“A group of mussels in a tight area can filter as much water as a treatment plant,” Tiemann said. “Hopefully we will one day be able to pinpoint the exact monetary value of these Vermillion River mussels so policymakers can translate the science into dollars.”
For now, Tiemann is happy to see the restoration making waves among enthusiastic farmers, government wildlife agencies and concerned citizens.
“A lot of people like to be outside, and this is one thing we can do to restore this scenic river to its pre-settlement condition,” Tiemann said.Editor's note:
Chelsey B. Coombs | EurekAlert!
International network connects experimental research in European waters
21.03.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)
World Water Day 2017: It doesn’t Always Have to Be Drinking Water – Using Wastewater as a Resource
17.03.2017 | ISOE - Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
23.03.2017 | Life Sciences
23.03.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
23.03.2017 | Earth Sciences