Native freshwater mussels play a critical role in river and stream ecology by influencing nutrient cycles and macro-invertebrate diversity. Mussels are also sensitive to changes in aquatic habitat conditions including water quality, fish communities, and physical changes in the streambeds, which make them a good indicator of aquatic habitat status. However, in spite of their broad distribution and species diversity, relatively little is known about the life history, distribution, and ecology of these important bivalves. What is known is that freshwater mussels have drastically declined in many areas due to habitat changes, water pollution and over-exploitation. For all these reasons, the Gulf Coast Prairie Landscape Conservation Cooperative (GCP LCC) Steering Committee designated the most diverse genus of mussels in the LCC’s landscape, Quadrula spp., as a focal group in their Science Strategy. Before the LCC could design conservation measures for the genus, it needed to find out what was known about Quadrula mussels and what conservation approaches hold promise for these animals.
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