Symposium Summary: What Data Are Needed to Ensure Freshwater Mollusk Conservation into the Future?

An example of the richness of native freshwater mussels from the Midwest. Photo credit: Christopher Owen

An example of the richness of native freshwater mussels from the Midwest. Photo credit: Christopher Owen

The Unites States has the highest diversity of freshwater gastropods and Unionidae mussels in the world. Both groups of mollusks are also considered the most endangered freshwater organisms in the United States. This symposium presented an opportunity for researchers to share knowledge that could contribute to mollusk conservation with a fisheries audience. The symposium began with an effort to develop a conservation plan for threatened mussels in the Gulf Coast Prairie region. Other presenters demonstrated the need for mussel monitoring programs and addressing biases in sampling protocols. Three presentations described efforts to model habitat suitability, including identification of high diversity hotspots for mussels and fishes in Eastern Texas, suitable mussel habitat based on hydrogeomorphic data in Missouri watersheds, and suitable habitat for threatened mussels and their host fishes in Michigan. The symposium included a presentation on differing chemical sensitivities of mussels, and ended with a presentation on the importance of morphology in identifying threatened populations of snails. This symposium helped to elevate the need for freshwater mollusk conservation within the United States and brought together leading experts from across North America.  If you would like to join a list serve on the topic of freshwater mollusk conservation, please write to:  freshwatermollusk@gmail.com. Read the abstracts here.

—Wesley M. Daniel, Ph.D., Research Associate, Department of Fisheries & Wildlife, Michigan State University