Rising Water Temperatures Threaten Mussels
Could Effect Mississippi River Ecosystem
LA CROSSE, Wis. — There are 300 different species of mussels found in North America. About seventy-percent of those are threatened to become extinct.
That’s according to a study by the U-S Geological Survey and a group of UW-L students. They are finding that as water temperature rises above 30 degrees Celsius – about 86 degrees Fahrenheit – the mortality rate of pregnant, freshwater mussels is around 80 percent.
Mussels provide valuable services to humans, offering pearls and beautiful shells. They also offer a service to the local ecosystem.
“Mussels presence in a river or a stream indicates that the water body is very healthy, they feed by filtering, so they are cleaning up the water as they feed, so they kind of do the work of a wastewater treatment plant, but free of cost,” says Teresa Newton, a fisheries biologist for the U.S. Geological Survey.
This study is part of ten nation wide studies on mussels.