Perspectives on the Controlled Propagation, Augmentation, and Reintroduction of Freshwater Mussels (Mollusca: Bivalvia: Unionoida)
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Controlled propagation, augmentation, and reintroduction (PAR) of rare and endangered aquatic organisms has become a priority action for recovery and delisting, and in many cases is an action of ‘‘last resort’’ to either restore or maintain existing populations. The guiding principle of PAR efforts should be to avoid harming existing populations of congeneric or nontarget species and also minimize risks to extant populations and habitats. Controlled PAR of freshwater mussels should not be a long-term management strategy conducted in perpetuity and should not be used as a substitute for recovery tasks such as habitat restoration or addressing the causes of endangerment. The determination to pursue controlled PAR for freshwater mussels should follow a thorough evaluation of the status of existing wild populations, an agreement that PAR in the historic range is needed, and a conclusion that suitable habitat for long-term success is present. The primary purpose of any efforts to augment or reintroduce animals should be to establish free-ranging wild populations. Concomitant with this goal is the distinct possibility that these activities can represent appreciable genetic or ecological risks to resident animals, both nontarget taxa and wild conspecifics. To maintain the integrity of the fauna, communities, and ecosystems it is imperative that these risks be carefully considered before conducting controlled PAR. In this paper we pose several questions that we believe are important to consider before initiating PAR of freshwater mussels. We also recommend actions, some already used at individual facilities or by agencies, that we believe will aid in developing a more uniform approach to controlled PAR and safeguarding the ecological and genetic integrity of freshwater mussel communities.
This article is published as McMurray, Stephen E., and Kevin J. Roe. "Perspectives on the controlled propagation, augmentation, and reintroduction of freshwater mussels (Mollusca: Bivalvia: Unionoida)." Freshwater Mollusk Biology and Conservation 20 (2017): 1-12. Posted with permission.