Weightless in San Luis Potosi

OUTSIDE VALLES, MEXICO — When we first arrived at this stream, I knew we were in a special location. The clear, turquoise blue water rivals that of any picture from a Caribbean tour magazine. When I put my snorkeled face in the water, I can actually see mussels in the streambed below, something that doesn’t happen very often in Illinois streams. Collecting the mussels, however, is proving difficult.

Read the full story from the University of Illinois News Bureau here.

Team discovers a new invasive clam in the U.S.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — They found it in the Illinois River near the city of Marseilles, Illinois, about 80 miles west of Lake Michigan – a strange entry point for an invasive Asian clam. The scientists who found it have no idea how it got there. But the discovery – along with genetic tests that confirm its uniqueness – means that a new species or “form” of invasive clam has made its official debut in North America.

Read the full story from the University of Illinois News Bureau here.

Researchers move endangered mussels to save them

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.

Getting the scoop on Illinois mussels

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.