Our Neighborhood's Biodiversity Map

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Europe
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Shared by : Bharat Adhikari (Nepal)
Habitat : Temperate regions of western Russia, Europe to northeastern North America
Status : Endangered (EN)
Introduction
It is an endangered species of freshwater mussel, an aquatic bivalve mollusc in the family Margaritiferidae. Most cultured pearls today come from Hyriopsis species in Asia, or Amblema species in North America, both members of the related family Unionidae; pearls are found within species in the genus Unio.
The interior of the shell of Margaritifera margaritifera has thick nacre (the inner mother of pearl layer of the shell). This species is capable of making fine-quality pearls and was historically exploited in the search for pearls from wild sources. In recent times, the Russian malacologist Valeriy Zyuganov received worldwide reputation after he discovered that the pearl mussel exhibited negligible senescence and he determined that it had a maximum lifespan of 210-250 years. The data of V.V. Zyuganov have been confirmed by the Finnish malacologists and gained general acceptance.
It is one of the longest-living invertebrates in existence. The oldest known specimen in Europe was caught in 1993 in Estonia when it was 134 years old.
Habitat
Clean, fast-flowing streams and rivers are required for the freshwater pearl mussel, Clean gravel and sand is essential, particularly for juvenile freshwater pearl mussels, for if the stream or river bottom becomes clogged with silt, they cannot obtain oxygen and will die.
Threats and Conservation
The negative impacts humans have on rivers and streams come from a wide range of activities such as river regulation, drainage, sewage disposal, dredging, and water pollution, including the introduction of excess nutrients.
The freshwater pearl mussel is completely protected in all European countries. Measures have included the transfer of adult mussels to areas where it had gone extinct, the culture of juvenile mussels, and the release of juvenile trout, which have been infected with glochidia, into small rivers, but mainly the freshwater pearl mussel has benefited from habitat restoration projects in some areas.

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