The Case of Pearly Mussels

David L. Strayer

in Freshwater Mussel Ecology

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780520255265
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520942523 | DOI:
The Case of Pearly Mussels

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Pearly mussels of the superfamily Unionoidea (including the families Unionidae, Margaritiferidae, and Hyriidae) are common and widespread in rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds around the world, living on all continents except Antarctica. Although their roles in freshwater ecosystems have not been fully investigated, they can be important suspension-feeders, influencing water chemistry and clarity, and the amount and kind of suspended particles in the water. Shell production by unionoids can be of the same order of magnitude as wood production by trees in a temperate forest, providing important physical structure to other organisms. Waste products from mussels can enhance local populations of algae. Pearly mussels also are economically important to humans, having been harvested as a source of pearls, mother-of-pearl, and human food. This chapter discusses the evolution and classification of pearly mussels, the biology of pearly mussels, and conservation issues.

Keywords: Unionoidea; evolution; classification; biology; conservation

Chapter.  3667 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Aquatic Biology

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