Everyone is familiar with the image of the "Canary in the Coal Mine". The bird serves as an early warning system for the miners. Trouble with the bird means trouble coming for the humans as well. So it goes with freshwater mussels and the quality of our streams and rivers. 70% of our mussel species are imperiled, it's the most endangered group of animals in the nation. Like the canary in the coal mine, it's a signal that we cannot ignore.
Mussel research on the St. Croix RiverThe challenges facing our freshwater mussel populations are overwhelming. Dams, sedimentation, pollution, declines in host fish species, competition with invasive mussel species, it's tough to be a mussel these days.
Many of the factors effecting our native mussels could eventually effect people as well. Improving mussel habitat means healthier rivers and streams. That's healthier rivers and streams for people as well.
There is hope. Improved water quality and stream bank revetment efforts have stabilized some mussel habitat. New developments in mussel propagation techniques provide hope for these endangered species.  In many ways, the fates of men and mussels are linked.

"Macalester College student conducting mussel research on the St. Croix River"
Photo by: Mark Hove and Dan Hornbach, Macalester College

TV Video Icon
Discovery News reports: Endangered winged mapleleaf mussels are thriving in Arkansas, researchers hope to use them to boost their overall population.

River closed ahead Sign
"A prophetic warning for our nation's streams"
Photo by Chris Eads, North Carolina State University