News FocusEcology

Nearly Buried, Mussels Get a Helping Hand

Science  16 Nov 2012:
Vol. 338, Issue 6109, pp. 876-878
DOI: 10.1126/science.338.6109.876

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Summary

Freshwater mussels are the most endangered group of organisms in the United States, with most of their river and stream habitats devastated by dams, pollution, and invasive species such as the zebra mussel. Thirty-five species have been declared extinct, others are likely gone, and more than 70 species are on the brink. This month, the Fish and Wildlife Service added eight mussel species to the U.S. endangered species list. Mussel conservationists have persuaded a few dam operators to modify their water releases to improve conditions for mussels and have helped restore water quality in important mussel habitats. Researchers, meanwhile, are trying to solve some puzzles in mussel ecology, figure out how to culture more kinds of endangered mussels in captivity, and ramp up restoration efforts.