State‐Level Freshwater Mussel Programs: Current Status and a Research Framework to Aid in Mussel Management and Conservation

Despite increased focus on their ecology and conservation, freshwater mussels remain one of the most imperiled groups of aquatic organisms. We documented current management actions, resources, and challenges in managing freshwater mussels in the United States through a survey of state natural resource agencies. Approximately 85% of surveyed states (= 40) actively managed mussel populations. Common challenges to mussel conservation included limited funding, lack of public awareness, and poor understanding of habitat needs and risks. We present a research framework, currently underway in Missouri, to support a regional mussel conservation assessment whereby habitat needs are identified, risks are assessed, and standardized protocols are developed to monitor and detect trends in mussel assemblages and threats. The research framework conforms to the National Strategy for the Conservation of Native Freshwater Mollusks and is adaptable to other states. With full consideration of resource limitations, we explore how this framework can improve the effectiveness of mussel conservation efforts.

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