Inside Region 3
Midwest Region


Juvenile Higgins' Eye Pearly Mussels Going Mobile

Mussels in hand photo

Juvenile Higgins’ eye pearly mussel growing within a mobile rearing unit. The bright ring along each mussels’ edge shows growth from this year. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Genoa National Fish Hatchery, which safeguards and propagates freshwater mussels for reintroduction into native habitat, is utilizing advanced technology in mobile rearing to evaluate how different water sources support growth and survival of young freshwater mussels. The Eastern Tallgrass Prairie and Big Rivers Landscape Conservation Cooperative has dedicated funding to this project to help assess propagation techniques in light of broad-scale stressors to our aquatic resources.

“The Eastern Tallgrass Prairie and Big Rivers LCC is very pleased to be able assist with funding for the mussel research project,” said LCC Coordinator Glen Salmon. “The tremendous network of big rivers, smaller tributaries, streams and headwater creeks form the very lifeblood across the geography of the regions this partnership covers. Freshwater mussels are an important component of Midwestern river systems and this project will increase our knowledge about possible reintroduction techniques.”

A mobile aquatic rearing station, or MARS, was deployed along the banks of the Mississippi River at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Blackhawk Park near De Soto, Wis., in the summer of 2012 to raise rare and endangered mussel species, including Higgins’ eye pearly mussel, hickory nut, black sandshell and snuffbox. Freshwater mussels like these are known as ecological engineers for their unique ability to siphon phytoplankton, bacteria and fungi from the water column and deposit nutrients into the sediment that feeds other aquatic life.

Ashley Spratt,
External Affairs




Last updated: October 1, 2012