Freshwater mussel restoration approaches; a systematic review of the global mussel restoration toolbox

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Roland A Eveleens , Catherine M. Febria

Publication Date:

Particular species groups, such as unionid freshwater mussels, provide important ecosystem functions and services but are often overlooked and disproportionately in need of restoration. As species recovery often exhibits delays in recovery, refinement of current approaches and a better understanding of available tools are required. In the Laurentian Great Lakes of North America, 14 of 35 unionid mussel species found in Ontario, Canada are federally classified at risk of extinction. To inform efforts in the Great Lakes, we look to global efforts and in particular how aspects of their complex life history are being addressed. Unionids depend on multiple trophic levels to survive; they rely on fish hosts during juvenile stages, feed on algae and organic matter, and interact with other filter-feeding species. It is unclear how effectively such interactions are considered in restoration, and this may be an underexplored aspect underpinning restoration. Here we present a global review of unionid mussel restoration including the extent to which community interactions have been addressed. Preliminary results suggest that few efforts are being reported with a select focus on certain areas globally. Some efforts incorporate community interactions, but results are only promising for catchments where populations have not been completely extirpated. Sequenced approaches to managing abiotic and biotic aspects should be considered particularly if coordinated at appropriate scales. Further development of a restoration toolbox is necessary to not only determine suitable restoration tools, but also best direct the development of coordinated approaches that harmonize efforts across scales.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

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