Many aquatic mollusks, such as the freshwater pearl mussel (Margaritifera margaritifera), are in decline throughout Europe. The reasons are largely unknown; factors that have been suggested to contribute are river bed compaction due to agricultural practices, eutrophication, or pollutants of various natures. Brittle shells of recently deceased pearl mussels from northern Bavaria with weak calcium incrustations point to the possibility that calcium metabolism is affected. It is known that certain persistent organic pollutants and some heavy metals may induce calcium deficiency in wildlife. Elevated levels of the organochlorine insecticide DDT and its metabolite DDE, as well as of cadmium and some other heavy metals, have been found in pearl mussels. Both classes of environmental pollutants are known to potentially interfere with calcium homeostasis.
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