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Ozark Waters 
Volume XI, Issue 26
June 26, 2017
In This Issue

 

 

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Fresh Water Mussels in Missouri

David Casaletto, Executive Director, Ozarks Water Watch

A recent article on Fresh Water Mussels in the June edition of the Missouri Conservationist caught my attention. It is a very interesting article on the 69 species of freshwater mussels we have in Missouri. The iridescent whites, brilliant purples, and beautiful pinks of the inner lining of their shells are as colorful as some of their common names - threehorn wartyback, pimpleback, elephantear, rabbitsfoot, spectaclecase, elktoe, and snuffbox. They range in size from the diminutive purple lilliput, which reaches a maximum size of only about 2 inches, to the washboard, which can reach a maximum size of 10 inches or more. These unique animals can live for just a few years or up to 100 years or more, often staying in the exact same spot their entire lives.

Missouri mussels

I especially found interesting the mussels' use of lures to get the attention of bass. When the bass attempts to eat the lure, the mussels squirts its young into the bass's mouth where they latch on to the gills and get nourishment. It just is hard to believe that in the picture below we are looking at part of a mussel, not a fish!

A mussel's lure - not a real fish!

But of all the mussels lures, no deception is more complex than that of a genus of freshwater mussels called lampsilis. The mantle flesh that spills out of the females' shells is not only shaped like a fish, but moves like one. When a predatory fish like a bass attacks the lure, the mussel fires its larvae in the fish's gills. Here the parasitic young attach and drain nutrition from their host before ejecting and settling on the riverbed. Watch this YouTube video below - it really is just unbelievable!


Typically lampsilis species mimic minnows. The lure has two halves that have characteristic stripes, and even sport eyespots for extra trickery. Varieties also differ in how vigorously they'll flop their lures around, with some committing several hours straight to twitching to reel a predator in. And when the fish falls for it, everything else is automatic. The predator strikes, and the gills between the two halves of the lure rupture, releasing a cloud of larvae. The fish suction the larvae-which look like tiny versions of their parent-into the mouth where they snap shut on the gill filaments. Here they'll hold tight, absorbing nutrients from the host 10 to 20 days or more after which they fall off and start their life in the steam bed.


Scientists refer to freshwater mussels as sentinel species that can warn when danger appears in the environment. You could say our freshwater mussels are like the canaries miners once kept in coalmines to warn them when dangerous gases like carbon monoxide were present. If a canary died, the miners knew they were in danger, too. Because mussels are sensitive to various pollutants, long lived, and often remain in one place their entire lives, their presence is often a sign of a healthy river or stream. Mussels can also accumulate pollutants from the environment. Scientifically analyzing them helps us determine what pollutants are affecting our rivers.


Recently, MDC has partnered with the U.S. Geological Survey's Fish and Wildlife Cooperative Research Unit at the University of Missouri to use geographic information system tools to help us predict where in the state mussel beds occur and identify threats to mussel populations. Partners will incorporate these data into a design for a statewide monitoring program that will help us better understand, protect, and conserve these important animals and their habitat.

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Quote of the Week
 
Water, thou hast no taste, no color, no odor; canst not be defined, art relished while ever mysterious & not necessary to life, but rather life itself, thou fillest us with a gratification that exceeds the delight of the senses.  

~ Antoine de Saint
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Playing Outside Makes Kids Happier, Healthier And Smarter (But 7 Minutes A Day Isn't Enough)

KXTX OnPoint
June 13, 2017 

Despite evidence that children who play and learn outside are healthier, happier and smarter, the average child today spends just four to seven minutes playing outside every day. Research suggests that a lack of exposure to the great outdoors can lead to a number of maladies, from obesity and vitamin deficiency to ADHD, anxiety and depression. Insufficient time spent in the natural world is also linked to weakened ecological literacy and environmental stewardship. While not a medical diagnosis, the phrase "nature-deficit disorder" has been used to describe the consequences of human alienation from nature.  What factors contribute to the epidemic of inactivity afflicting children today, and what can be done to reverse society's nature deficiency? How can parents and caregivers provide a safe and fulfilling outdoor experience for children? 

To read more and listen, Click: HERE
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THE RIVERS WILD

ArkansasLife.com
June, 2017

Check out this article to read about these rivers in Arkansas!
  • Fishiest: Dry Run Creek
  • Coldest: The Spring River
  • Rapidest: Newton County
  • Dammed-est: The White River
  • Laziest: Bayou DeView Water Trail
  • Wildest: Sulphur River
  • Most Endangered: The Buffalo National River

To read more, Click:  HERE
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Envisioning Nature-Rich Cities

City Lab
June 13, 2017

Homes destroyed by mudslides, villages flattened by hurricanes, glaciers melting into the sea, land cracked by drought: Such images of the effects of climate change fill social media feeds and television screens. These images may spur awareness and prompt declines in fossil fuel use, but they don't encourage us to envisage a hopeful, green future.


Writer Richard Louv wants us to focus on this more optimistic vision. While such a view involves fighting climate change by using more-sustainable energy sources, Louv invites us to go further by imagining a "nature-rich" future. "If you only talk about energy efficiency, the conversation stops at solar panels," he says. "'Nature-rich' conjures up the images that we want to work toward."

To read more, Click:  HERE

Contact Info
OZARKS WATER WATCH                          MISSOURI OFFICE                                 ARKANSAS OFFICE

David Casaletto, President                         PO Box 636, 11 Oak Drive                      1200 W. Walnut, Ste. 3405
(417) 739-4100                                         Kimberling City, MO  65686                           Rogers, AR  72756

contact@ozarkswaterwatch.org