Mussel Management, Science & Trouble in the Great Lakes

As heard on the March 30, 2012, Environment Report, part of Friday Edition at 9 a.m. Fridays on Delta College radio, Q-90.1 FM.

Mussel Management photo freshwater mussel buttons nsf illinois

The state has introduced an updated plan to prevent the introduction and spread of aquatic nuisance species.

Public comments on a draft state management plan are being taken until May 1.

Beyond preventing the introduction and spread of invasives like Asian carp, the plan aims to limit the harmful effects of invasives in Michigan waters.

New actions and enhancements to existing actions are outlined in the document.

Top priorities of the draft plan include a continued push for federal action to physically separate the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins. That would involve changes to the sanitary and ship canal in Chicago.

The plan also proposes cracking down on Internet and pet shop sales of nonnative species that could cause problems in the lakes.

Comments are being taken through May 1.

You can find out more at michigan.gov.

Freshwater Science

Speaking of invasives, the National Science Foundation is out with a new report on freshwater mussels and the consequences for ecosystems.

According to research by the University of Oklahoma, almost 70 percent of freshwater mussels are considered threatened in some way.

Researchers say mussels need plentiful water to thrive, and healthy fish to reproduce.

In the Great Lakes, freshwater mussel populations have been harmed by invasive zebra and quagga mussels, native to Eastern Europe.

At the moment, the human need for water is the biggest danger to freshwater mussels, researchers say.

Habitat destruction, fragmentation from dams, and an intense drought in the southern plains have all contributed to destruction of mussel beds, according to the report.

Water filtering done by freshwater mussels provides a benefit for humans.

So one future priority in research is to come up with monetary values for the services that freshwater mussels provide.

Photo: For decades, freshwater mussels were harvested and made into fancy buttons. Credit: Illinois State Museum.

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