Conservation Biology of Freshwater Mussels


Target Audience:

Biologists who work with freshwater mussels in their daily work but have little or no formal knowledge of their biology, physiology, and life history.

Summary and Objectives:

This is an introductory course on the biology and ecology of freshwater mussels and the conservation issues facing this highly endangered group of animals. Participants will learn about mussel anatomy, physiology, life history, health, ecosystem services, mussels as biomonitors, conservation status, population impacts, conservation measures (relocation, propagation, and conservation genetics), legal issues (permits and the Endangered Species Act, Section 7 Section 7
Section 7 Consultation The Endangered Species Act (ESA) directs all Federal agencies to work to conserve endangered and threatened species and to use their authorities to further the purposes of the Act. Section 7 of the Act, called "Interagency Cooperation," is the mechanism by which Federal agencies ensure the actions they take, including those they fund or authorize, do not jeopardize the existence of any listed species.

Learn more about Section 7
consultations, and critical habitat), and field techniques (survey and sampling techniques and habitat assessment). This course will address key characters for identification of freshwater mussels and will provide opportunities in the laboratory to practice with dichotomous keys; however, due to time constraints and the regional nature of mussel assemblages, this is NOT a mussel identification course.

Upon completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Identify the internal organs and soft tissue parts of a freshwater mussel.
  • List the impacts on freshwater mussel populations.
  • Describe the life cycle of freshwater mussels.
  • List the ecosystem services that freshwater mussels provide.
  • Describe the conservation measures used to recover freshwater mussel populations.
  • Compare and contrast survey techniques used in large rivers and wadeable streams.
  • Describe techniques for mussel handling, marking, tagging, and relocation.
  • Identify the legal issues related to freshwater mussel conservation, such as permits, Section 7 consultations, and designation of critical habitat.


Fishery Biology - Basic, Aquatic Ecology - Basic, Conservation Biology - Awareness, Research - Basic

Course Short Name
Course Type
Training Tuition Cost
36.0 hours
Training Credit Hours
Semester Hours

Questions and Registration

Upcoming Sessions of this Course

Session date and time
Location Classroom
Shepherdstown, WV

Session Contact


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