Threats To Freshwater Mussels And The Consequences For Ecosystems

Freshwater mussel species, with names such as ‘fatmucket,’ ‘bank climber,’ and ‘heelsplitter,’ are critical to river ecosystems. But, many species are in trouble. Nearly 70% of freshwater mussel species are considered threatened in some way, according to zoologist Caryn Vaughn at the University of Oklahoma. With support from the National Science Foundation, Vaughn studies the role mussels play in freshwater ecosystems. If you can believe it, mussels live 30 to 50 years! And they work hard during that time, filtering impurities from the water. The major problem for freshwater mussels now is habitat fragmentation and channelization by dams. Ultimately, Vaughn would like to put a monetary value on the services that mussels provide in order to show the economic benefits of restoring mussel beds.

Provided by the National Science Foundation

Runtime: 2:29

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