Freshwater Mussels of Florida
   Gary Warren, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Abstract: Freshwater mussels have a worldwide distribution and reach their greatest diversity in the southeastern United States. During the past 50 years the entire North American mussel fauna has declined substantially in both diversity and abundance. Currently, more than 70% of the North American fauna is considered endangered, threatened, or species of special concern. Florida is currently inhabited by 62 mussel species. Of these, 34 species have been identified by the state as Species of Greatest Conservation Need and seven are listed federally as Endangered or Threatened. There is concurrence among mussel researchers that the Florida fauna mirrors the continental fauna’s severe state of imperilment.Many factors have contributed to the decline of the Florida mussel fauna. Most significant among these are impoundment of rivers, in stream dredging and mining, and land use practices that promote erosion and sedimentation. Loss of the mussel fauna can have ecosystem-wide ramifications. Mussels are integral to the natural functioning of aquatic ecosystems in that they serve as a food source for a variety species, including raccoons, otters, and limpkins, and their filtering and metabolic activities contribute to nutrient cycling, decomposition, and toxin removal processes.By utilizing field studies, genetic research, morphological research, and museum research, conduct a statewide survey of the Florida mussel fauna and produce a comprehensive book detailing the distribution, status, ecology, and taxonomy of freshwater mussels of Florida.The products of the research will benefit state and federal natural resource agencies, non-government conservation organizations, and the general public by providing an up-to-date assessment of the distribution, health, and taxonomy of the Florida mussel fauna.The Florida mussel fauna will be surveyed in streams, lakes, and ponds throughout the state using state-of-the–art quantitative and qualitative methods. Genetic relationships within and among several key genera will be investigated using mitochondrial DNA methodology to determine taxonomic relationships. Morphological research will be conducted to determine those anatomical features most useful for distinguishing species. Museum research will be conducted to obtain historical distribution records.

Award Matching Funds Total
$293,205.00 $293,205.00 $586,410.00

Year Funded Starting Date Ending Date
2006 6/1/2007 6/30/2011

Location: Statewide