Appalachian Mussels: Our Living Freshwater Filters

Flexing our mussels: The inland mussel species of Appalachia are unmatched around the world, with the Tennessee River basin alone containing more varieties than China and Europe combined. Photo courtesy of Aquatic Wildlife Conservation Center

By Jesse Wood When European settlers first waded through Appalachian streams hundreds of years ago, freshwater mussels practically paved the riverbeds. In the early 1900s, the aquatic creatures were so abundant that thousands of pearl hunters flocked to the forks of the Holston and Clinch rivers in Tennessee hoping to strike it rich. Of course,…

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