A Rainforest of Clams

There are more species of freshwater mussels in the Southeast US than anywhere else in the world – even in the Amazon Rainforest!

freshwater mussels | photo courtesy of arkive.org

Did you know that poster sized section of stream bottom in the Southeast US can have more species of freshwater mussels than the all the streams in Europe?

There are more species of freshwater mussels in the Southeast US than anywhere else in the world – even in the Amazon Rainforest! These filter-feeding animals keep your drinking water clean and keep your water bill down as dirty stream water is more expensive to turn into drinkable water.

A freshwater mussel shell in Armuchee Creek, GA | Photo by Erin Singer McCombs
Ani Escobar (Georgia Department of Natural Resources) and Wendell Haag (US Forest Service Southern Research Station)in Armurchee Creek studying the decline of freshwater mussels | Photo by Erin Singer McCombs

While we have stunning diversity of freshwater mussels, we also have a problem. Populations of freshwater mussels are declining and scientists do not know why yet. American Rivers is partnering with scientists across 13 states to figure out what’s going on. 

Recently, the field crew was near Rome, GA, and we started our morning with First News with Tony McIntosh on WRGA to talk about our work to stave off biodiversity loss.

(Above, Right) The field crew collecting water samples and freshwater mussels in Armuchee Creek, GA, to investigate why some populations are declining | Photos by Erin Singer McCombs

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