Freshwater Mussels Essay examples

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Freshwater Mussels

Mussels are a species of marine life that inhabits many of the bodies of water in the United States. They serve as an important aspect of the ecological system of the water in which they occupy. However, the number of mussels have been declining such that many are now considered as endangered species. There are a few reasons for the decline in population, including domination by a single species of mussels called the zebra mussel. Conservation has begun on mussels because of their strong environmental influence. The two groups interested in mussels involve parties that use the lakes for recreation and consider mussels as a threat to their gaming as well as ecologists that understand the domination of zebra mussels and
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They are an important food source for many other animals including muskrats, minks, otters, fishes, and some birds. More importantly, they serve as indicators in that they are sensitive to pollutants such as heavy metals, pesticides, agricultural nutrients, heavy loads of fine silts. These pollutants will kill mussels and thus provides a warning of the particular waters infested with these pollutants (Vermont's Freshwater WWW). It is inevitable that mollusks are going to be exposed to water born chemicals. Once exposed uptake is very rapid and very easy. Most of the chemical pollutants in the San Francisco Bay, for example, are organochlorine insecticides otherwise known as chlorinated hydrocarbons (West Coast Mollusc 1988). Examples of these compounds include benzene hexachloride, chlordane, DDT, dieldrin, and toxaphene. There are other unnoticeable pollutants that are found in commercial plastics such as Phthalate esters. Since mollusks are not very good at biodegrading these pollutants pose a threat to their lives.

North America hosts one-third of 300 mussel species. But of these, 70 percent are either extinct, endangered, or declining in population (Vermont's Freshwater WWW). In the US, there are 42 mussels that are listed as federally endangered or threatened and another 70 species have been proposed (Mussel Biology WWW). One of the more common is the dwarf wedge mussel (Alasmidonta heterodon) which is found in 9 states in

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