and Conservation of Freshwater Mussels
by Robert E. Warren
ISM Associate Curator of Anthropology
Many Species Are There?
Biologists have identified nearly 300 species of mussels in North America,
more than on any other continent in the world. Eighty species have been
found in Illinois, including the threeridge
(Amblema plicata), the purple
wartyback (Cyclonaias tuberculata), the fanshell
(Cyprogenia stegaria), the
butterfly (Ellipsaria lineolata), the tubercled
blossom (Epioblasma torulosa), the snuffbox
(Epioblasma triquetra), the rabbitsfoot (Quadrula cylindrica),
the monkeyface (Quadrula metanevra), the mapleleaf (Quadrula
quadrula), and the deertoe (Truncilla truncata).
Mussel populations have declined alarmingly in recent decades because
of siltation, pollution, and competition from exotic mollusks like the
zebra mussel. Of the 80 mussel species native to Illinois, more than
half are currently threatened, endangered, extirpated, or extinct. We
can protect mussels and other aquatic wildlife. Cleaning up our streams
and lakes will create healthy habitats where these animals can thrive.
Extinct Illinois mussels: