Essay: Making the most of recent advances in freshwater mussel propagation and restoration

David L. Strayer, Juergen Geist, Wendell R. Haag, John K. Jackson, J. Denis Newbold

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations

Abstract

Propagating and releasing freshwater mussels (Unionida) into the wild can contrib-ute substantially to conservation and perhaps ecosystem restoration, but poorly conceived projects can waste money and public good will, and harm mussel populations and ecosystems. Moving from vague, emotional reactions about mussel restoration to more rigorous discussions and analyses can help focus efforts to where they do the most good. We suggest that: (i) projects to restore mussels for conservation goals to sites where known environmental problems have been eliminated or mitigated have good prospects for success; (ii) projects to restore mussels for conservation goals to sites where known environmental problems have not been eliminated or mitigated have poor prospects for success; (iii) projects to restore mussels for conservation goals to sites in the common situation in which the status of environmental problems is unknown have unknown prospects for success, but may be valuable as scientific experiments, if project performance is monitored properly; (iv) the value of population augmentation as a conservation tool is uncer-tain, and needs better theoretical and empirical analysis; (v) assisted migration of mussels as a conservation tool is controversial, and should be discussed thoroughly before we reach crises in which it is rejected or carried out carelessly; (vi) projects to restore ecosystem services face more stringent criteria for success than conservation projects, and some such projects being discussed seem unlikely to succeed. Monitoring data on how restoration projects perform typically are inadequately col-lected, reported, disseminated, and used to improve practice. This could be improved by setting up a clearinghouse to collect, hold, and disseminate data; pro-viding training to restorationists; and opening conversations between restorationists and data managers and statisticians.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere53
JournalConservation Science and Practice
Volume1
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2019

Keywords

  • Unionidae
  • assisted migration
  • biomanipulation
  • ecosystem services
  • monitoring
  • water quality

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