Systematics and Distribution of the Recent Margaritiferidae

  • Douglas G. Smith
Part of the Ecological Studies book series (ECOLSTUD, volume 145)


A study of the morphologically conservative and allegedly most primitive family of freshwater mussels, the Margaritiferidae, can provide much information in understanding the evolution and adaptive radiation of the only large uniquely freshwater bivalve group, the Unionoida. Although containing only about 5% of the described and recognized unionoid species occurring in Holarctic regions, the Margaritiferidae is wide-ranging in its distribution. Recent species are known from the North American continent, Europe including northernmost Africa, the Middle East, and throughout much of southern and eastern Asia. Margaritiferids, colloquially known as pearl mussels, have received intense study only in the areas of life history, generally confined to European populations, and in earlier literature the general pattern of distribution. Very little work has been done on the relationships among the known species of the family and the characteristics used to assign species to the family. In order to provide a foundation for the ensuing discussion, a brief description of the Margaritiferidae and a definition of the morphological and anatomical traits that diagnose the family from other unionoid groups is presented.


Shell Length Freshwater Mussel Anterior Cusp Posterior Cusp Salmonid Fish 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2001

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  • Douglas G. Smith

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