The pearl mussel Margaritifera margaritifera (Linnaeus, 1758) (Bivalvia: Margaritiferidae) in Poland – current situation
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Institute of Nature Conservation, Polish Academy of Sciences, Cracow, Poland
Submission date: 2013-06-19
Final revision date: 2014-04-25
Acceptance date: 2014-04-27
Publication date: 2014-08-07
Folia Malacol. 2014;22(3):183-191
The pearl mussel was abundant in the Sudety Mountains until the late 19th century. No live mussels were found within the present borders of Poland since the early 20th century. In 2006–2007 we did a detailed survey of 50 streams and rivers within the former range of the pearl mussel to verify its current status and assess the habitat conditions. No live mussels were found. On the whole, the rivers and streams were found to be degraded. Only four streams met the habitat requirements of the species. Well-preserved shells with a nacre layer were found at the site of the last known population in the Koci Potok stream. To determine whether the shells represented an extinct population or rather indicated the presence of the last survivors, we placed Unio crassus shells in the stream within the historical range of occurrence. Those shells dissolved at the rate of approximately 20% per year, indicating that empty shells would not have remained intact within the channel. Possibly the earlier-found shells had been preserved in the banks above the water level. The possibility that they represent the last survivors can not be excluded. Further search for the last survivors, extended to cover northern Poland, is recommended.
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