are an overlooked but very important species in our aquatic ecosystems.
The very presence of freshwater mussels in our waterways indicates at
least a modicum of health in those waters. Mussels are diverse and often
very beautiful in form. They have a unique life cycle that depends on
another species for successful reproduction. Human over-harvesting on
some rivers drove some species to extinction and others to the brink.
Luckily, today, with protection and encouragement, some species are
holding their own or increasing.
Dr. Robert Warren
Illinois contains detailed and useful information on mussels
in the collection of the Illinois State Museum:
introduction containing pages
on the anatomy, habitat, life cycle, human uses, and diversity of
database of all Illinois records in the ISM collection
image archive of most of the 80 species of mussels that have occurred
about Illinois mussels, their life cycle and habitat
and resources for students and
lesson plans for teachers on mussel anatomy, life cycle, and habitat
a link to
the River Online Exhibit that explores the economic life
of the central Illinois River since 1850.