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In 1998, a strategy document outlining the most pressing issues facing the conservation of freshwater mussels was published (NNMCC 1998). Beginning in 2011, the Freshwater Mollusk Conservation Society began updating that strategy, including broadening the scope to include freshwater snails. Although both strategy documents contained 10 issues that were deemed priorities for mollusk conservation, the identity of these issues has changed. For example, some issues (e.g., controlling dreissenid mussels, technology to propagate and reintroduce mussels, techniques to translocate adult mussels) were identified in the 1998 strategy, but are less prominent in the revised strategy, due to changing priorities and progress that has been made on these issues. In contrast, some issues (e.g., biology, ecology, habitat, funding) remain prominent concerns facing mollusk conservation in both strategies. In addition, the revised strategy contains a few issues (e.g., newly emerging stressors, education and training of the next generation of resource managers) that were not explicitly present in the 1998 strategy. The revised strategy states that to effectively conserve freshwater mollusks, we need to (1) increase knowledge of their distribution and taxonomy at multiple scales; (2) address the impacts of past, ongoing, and newly emerging stressors; (3) understand and conserve the quantity and quality of suitable habitat; (4) understand their ecology at the individual, population, and community levels; (5) restore abundant and diverse populations until they are self-sustaining; (6) identify the ecosystem services provided by mollusks and their habitats; (7) strengthen advocacy for mollusks and their habitats; (8) educate and train the conservation community and future generations of resource managers and researchers; (9) seek long-term funding to support conservation efforts; and (10) coordinate development of an updated and revised strategy every 15 years. Collectively addressing these issues should strengthen conservation efforts for North American freshwater mollusks.
Densities of introduced Asian carp (Silver Carp and Bighead Carp) in the Illinois River Basin are among the highest in the world. Asian carp have been reported to serve as hosts for Sinanodontawoodiana in their native territories, but no research has been conducted on the potential for Silver or Bighead Carp to host North American freshwater mussels. Our objectives were 1) to examine the presence of glochidia on native and non-native fishes from the Illinois River Basin, 2) to determine an optimal concentration and duration of potassium hydroxide (KOH) exposure for increasing transparency of preserved fish gills to more effectively detect the presence of glochidia and parasites, and 3) identify parasite burdens. Fifteen fish species (12 native and 3 non-native) were collected from the Illinois River Basin during summer of 2014. Preserved fins and gills of native and non-native fishes were examined for glochidia and parasite infections. We determined that a 20 min 5% KOH bath was optimal for increasing gill transparency. We recovered 242 glochidia from 5 native fish species: Bluegill, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Freshwater Drum, and Sauger. Based upon morphometric data, we were able to identify the glochidial larval stage of 5 groups of freshwater mussels: Group A-Lilliput, Group B- Threeridge, Group C- Deertoe or Fawnsfoot, Group D- Threehorn Wartyback, and Group E-Fragile Papershell. We did not locate glochidia on any of the non-native fish species. Future research should include the use of laboratory host trials to elucidate if Asian carp could serve as successful host fishes for native mussels or if they are recruitment sinks, a possibility that could have a major impact on the future stocks of currently imperiled freshwater mussels.
Anthropogenically caused physical and chemical habitat degradation, including water pollution, have caused dramatic declines in freshwater mollusk populations. Sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS), a surfactant with no USEPA Water Quality Criteria (WQC), is commonly used in industrial applications, household cleaners, personal hygiene products, and herbicides. In aquatic habitats, previous SDS studies have associated deformities and death to mollusks found in these systems. The objective of this study was to determine EC50 values for two freshwater juvenile unionids (Villosa nebulosa and Hamiota perovalis) and two freshwater caenogastropods (Leptoxis ampla and Somatogyrus sp.) endemic to the Mobile River Basin, USA, to SDS. Using the Trimmed Spearman-Karber method, EC50 values were calculated. Results found that EC50 values were: V nebulosa = 14,469 µg/L (95% CI: 13,436 – 15,581 µg/L), H. perovalis = 6,102 µg/L (95% CI: 4,727 – 7,876 µg/L), Somatogyrus sp. = 1,986 µg/L (95% CI: 1,453 – 2,715 µg/L), and L. ampla = 26 µg/L (95% CI: 6 – 112 µg/L). Freshwater gastropods were more sensitive to SDS than freshwater unionids. Leptoxis ampla was the most sensitive species tested and had such a low EC50 value that more protective regional criteria may be required. Therefore, future research should include additional testing on mollusk species, particularly regionally isolated species that may display increased sensitivity.