The Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences is conducting a survey of freshwater mussels in the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area. The study is a multiparty effort to collect much needed baseline inventory data for this region.
Freshwater mussels (Mollusca: Bivalvia: Unionidae) inhabit rivers, lakes, ponds, and streams worldwide. With more than 300 of the approximately 1,000 species of freshwater mussels occurring in eastern North America, this region is the most speciose in the world. This diversity, however, is seriously imperiled. Freshwater mussels lead all other groups of animals with respect to species at risk. More than two-thirds of unionids are presumed extinct, imperiled, or vulnerable.
Project participants are faculty and students from the Department of Biological, Geological, and Environmental Sciences at Cleveland State University. The Center for Environmental Science, Technology, and Policy at Cleveland State has also collaborated with the Mussel Survey team to secure funding through The George Gund Foundation. The study is being carried out in partnership with members of the Resource management Office in the CVNRA.
The successful implementation of plans for the preservation of freshwater mussels ultimately depends on the support of the public. For the most part, people are still relatively unfamiliar with the importance, the uniqueness, and the plight of freshwater mussels. Recommendations for conservation measures therefore frequently emphasize the necessity to augment scientific procedures with public outreach and education programs. Since the inception of the CVNRA mussel survey, the research team has made an effort to involve and educate the local community. A volunteer monitoring and education program has been an integral part of this study.
These pages present some preliminary results of the study. A copy of the completed report will be available through the Center for Environmental Science, Technology, and Policy.