Freshwater mussels are sensitive to contamination of sediment that they inhabit and to the water that they filter, making the presence of live, adult mussels an excellent indicator of ecosystem health and stability. Freshwater mussels are relatively immobile, imbedded in the streambed with part of the shell sticking up into the water so that they can filter water to obtain oxygen and food. This lack of mobility makes them particularly vulnerable to water and sediment contamination, changes in sedimentation, or prolonged drought. Thus, ecosystem health and stability are critical for their reproduction and survival.
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What makes a healthy environment for native freshwater mussels?
U.S. Dept. of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey,