Global diversity of freshwater mussels (Mollusca, Bivalvia) in freshwater


The term freshwater bivalve is very inclusive and not very informative. There are representatives of at least 19 families that have at least one representative living in freshwater. This suggests at least 14 different invasions of freshwater. At least nine families have small to large radiations in the freshwater environment: Corbiculidae, Sphaeriidae, Dreissenidae, and the unioniforme families: Hyriidae, Margaritiferidae, Unionidae, Etheriidae, Iridinidae, and Mycetopodidae. The unioniforme families contain at least 180 genera and about 800 species. This order is characterized by the unique parasitic larval stage on the gills, fins or the body of a particular host fish. This order of freshwater bivalves is suffering a very high rate of extinction, with about 37 species considered presumed extinct in North America alone. The level of endangerment and extinction facing these animals is primarily the result of habitat destruction or modification.

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Paula Mikkelsen provided insight into the variety of families occurring in brackish water. Cynthia M. Bogan and Jamie Smith have kindly read and criticized various versions of this article. Jonathan Raine assisted with the production of the maps.

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Correspondence to Arthur E. Bogan.

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Guest editors: E. V. Balian, C. Lévêque, H. Segers & K. Martens

Freshwater Animal Diversity Assessment

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Bogan, A.E. Global diversity of freshwater mussels (Mollusca, Bivalvia) in freshwater. Hydrobiologia 595, 139–147 (2008).

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  • Bivalve
  • Etheriidae
  • Extinction
  • Freshwater mussel
  • Hyriidae
  • Iridinidae
  • Margaritiferidae
  • Mycetopodidae
  • Unionidae
  • Unioniformes