Studies on Taxonomy, Distribution and Conservation

A.L. Martel © Canadian Museum of Nature


Underwater photograph of an eastern pearlshell mussel (Margaritifera margaritifera) filtering the minute planktonic particles in a salmon river. In this species, the fleshy mantle is velvet-like and deep blue. As part of the mantle, the inhalant (bottom) and exhalent (top) siphonal apertures are wide open here, as the animal pumps and filters the cold, oxygen-rich water of the river. Locality: Rivière du Gouffre, near Saint-Urbain, Charlevoix region, Quebec.

A part of this research program is on a species-rich yet declining group of freshwater mussels native to Canada (the Unionacea). These animals occur in lakes and rivers and are good indicators of ecological health. The work focuses on taxonomy by using shell morphology from early life stages, and considers distribution and changes to populations of these native mussels. Assessments include the impact of human activities, including the introductions of invasive species such as the zebra mussel. The other aspects of this project focus on the taxonomy of marine mussels (the Mytilidae), found along Canada's Pacific and Atlantic coasts, using early life stages for species identification, and the importance of these mussels in coastal ecosystems.

Principal investigator: André Martel.

Additional Resources

Nathalie Desrosiers and Annie Paquet, Ministère du Développement Durable, de l'Environnement, de la Faune et des Parcs du Québec (website in French)

Tania Baker, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources-OMNR, Pembroke, Ontario

Meredith Brown, Ottawa River Keeper-ORK, Ottawa, Ontario

Dr. Don McAlpine, New Brunswick Museum, St. John, New Brunswick

Dr. David Zanatta, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, Michigan

Dr. Réjean Tremblay, Institut des Sciences de la mer-ISMER, Université du Québec à Rimouski, Rimouski, Quebec

Dr. Denis Lacelle, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario