Mussels are very important invertebrates that provide tremendous benefits to their environments. However, many of them face threats and are protected by the Endangered Species Act.
Mussels are important because they filter the water they’re in. They improve water quality and provide food for other animals in the rivers they live in.1 They also are a good indicator if something is going wrong in their waters. Usually, if they are suffering, so is the water quality.2
Their job of filtering the water puts them at risk, however, when there are chemicals or other contaminants in the water.1 Threats include climate change that raises water temperature, invasive species, habitat destruction, and increased sediment that can smother them and affect water flow and reproduction.1&3
Within the United States, there are about 300 species of freshwater mussels, and over half of them are having trouble.4 Many mussels are already protected by the ESA, with new species proposed to be added recently. Both the Longsolid and Round Hickorynut mussels were proposed to be listed by the Fish and Wildlife Service in 2020. This is due to significant declines in populations compared to historical highs. Included with their protections are critical habitats of several hundred miles.4
The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation also filed a petition asking for protection for the Western Ridged Mussel in 2020. This is a mussel from the Pacific Northwest that has also been declining by almost half. These mussels face the same threats as the Longsolid and Round Hickorynut mussels – habitat degradation, pollution, and lack of protection.3
Mussels benefit their environment. As we take you through each of these C3 topics, we hope you’re seeing how intricately connected each animal is to their ecosystem. They each have a role to play in maintaining the balance so everything functions as it should and every species benefits.
Wolves are just as important to their ecosystems as mussels are to theirs.
To fully appreciate our wildlife, one needs to understand it. That’s why we bring you resources to your inbox every week. That’s why we take a stand for carnivores. That’s why we teach our summer programs and put Passport to Wildlife together. Because that’s what opens minds about our animals.
We hope you’ll take a moment to donate today. It helps us keep things going. When you donate, you’re taking a stand for wildlife. You’re helping open minds and hearts to the wild world all around us.
Make a one-time or monthly donation here or at the button below.
Thank you for your support,
Chris & the WERC Team
P.S. You can now get C3 in print! For $10 a month, you’ll get our articles as a physical newsletter delivered right to your home. The cost goes right back into WERC to cover printing costs and fund educational outreach. Sign up here!