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Restoring Ups and Downs on the Mississippi
(pg 11 of 11)

Malacologists Dan Kelner and Mike Davis with a string of mussels

Freshwater mussels develop as larvae that encyst and travel on the gills of several species of fish. Hitchhiking upstream, they drop to the streambed and develop into adults. In just such fashion, Higgins eye pearly mussel and winged mapleleaf mussels might have repopulated this stretch from populations downstream. But the many dams on the Mississippi (and other streams) hinder not only the movement of fish, but also the upstream travel of young mussels.

To hurry nature along, DNR mussel specialists "infected" fish with the larvae of Higgins eye mussels and placed these fish in cages anchored in the stretches where they wished to reintroduce the endangered mussels. So far, the larval Higgins eye mussels have dropped from the fish as planned. Using these juvenile mussels, two new populations of Higgins eye have been established in Pool 4 of the Mississippi River, where Higgins eye historically occurred. Hopefully, these populations will prosper and begin to reproduce on their own.

(Abraham, 2003); (Breining, 1994); (Kelner, 2002)

Black sandshell mussel
See black sandshell mussel
Displaying its mantle lure to attract a host fish for its larvae

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