They live for a century and clean our rivers, but freshwater mussels are dying in droves

Freshwater mussels are one of the most endangered groups of animals on the Freshwater mussels are one of the most endangered groups of animals on the planet, with 47% either extinct or threatened with extinction. Yet we hear almost nothing about the extinction crisis they face.

Most mussel species take five to ten years to reach sexual maturity. They are slow growing and long lived, often with a lifespan of 100 years or more. This combination of characteristics means mussel populations often cannot recover from large death events.

When rivers cease to flow in dry summer months, freshwater fish and other animals find refuge in the remaining pools. Freshwater mussels behave like the livers of rivers, keeping these refuges clean and ensuring animals can survive until the rains return.

the conservation management of freshwater species lags far behind that of terrestrial or marine species. Freshwater environments are very poorly protected by conservation reserves and up to 71% of the world’s wetlands have been lost since 1900.

phys.org They live for a century and clean our rivers, but freshwater mussels are dying in droves