CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Researchers have transported two endangered freshwater mussel species from Pennsylvania to Illinois in an attempt to re-establish their populations in the western part of the Ohio River Basin.
The team of biologists, led by Jeremy Tiemann of the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS), traveled to the site of a bridge-replacement project on Pennsylvania’s Allegheny River to collect northern riffleshell (Epioblasma rangiana) and clubshell (Pleurobema clava) mussels.
Read the full story from the University of Illinois News Bureau .
The freshwater mussels that inhabit the streams of Illinois spend most of their lives buried in the substrate, exposing only the parts they use to take in and expel a steady flow of water, from which they filter their food. This mode of living poses certain challenges for the scientists whose work it is to monitor mussel populations. As Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS) field biologist Alison Price explained to me, it is sometimes possible to sample for mussels visually, but only in waters that are shallow and clear enough to afford a good view of the streambed—a rare case in the Prairie State. More often, she and her colleagues sample for mussels by “grubbing.” “It is what it sounds like,” she quipped. “You reach down and rake your fingers through the sand and gravel until you feel a shell.” … Read the full story here.