- Freshwater mussels, like pollinators and trees, are critical to their larger ecosystems and the world around them. They create habitat for other species, like freshwater coral reefs, and help maintain the structure and rigidity of the waterways they call home. They scoop up algae and nutrients, processing and concentrating them for others to eat.
But perhaps most importantly, these soft-bodied invertebrates improve the water quality around them. They filter out sediment and agricultural runoff, limiting the size and impacts of dead zones. They reduce fecal bacteria from water, lowering the risk of E.coli. They sequester carbon, phosphorous and heavy metals. There's even evidence they can remove man-made contaminants from water, like pharmaceuticals, flame retardants and personal care products.
A single freshwater mussel can filter more than 15 gallons of water in a day.