Freshwater pearl mussel (Margaritifera margaritifera) and Painter's mussel (Unio pictorum) were once frequent large mussel species in our waters. Today, the few remaining extant stocks in Germany are often heavily overaged due to lack of reproduction, isolated in their presence and therefore often genetically impoverished. Hence, large freshwater mussels are highly vulnerable and endangered species not only throughout Germany, but also around the world, and are therefore deemed as species of special national interest.
The project "ArKoNaVera - Implementation of regional protection measures and development of a new transregional species conservation concept for the National Responsibility Species: Freshwater pearl mussel (Margaritifera margaritifera) and Painter's mussel (Unio pictorum) " aimed on developing concepts that will lead to a self-sustaining existence of these large bivalves. In this project, different partners from research and conservation cooperated on preserving current stocks and implementing measures to restore potential target waters in the project areas in Bavaria and Saxony.
A core of the project were the offspring. Being part of the research team at TU Dresden and UFZ Magdeburg, I was involved in developing new methods for the characterization of the food resources and dietary requirements of young mussels making use of lab and mesocosm experiments and applying molecular biology methods. Further, we established new population monitoring methods based on eDNA and droplet-digital PCR. These data will be used for a decision support tool to be developed for the identification of suitable habitat waters in several pilot regions.
More detailed information on ArKoNaVera and its follow-up project MARA can be found at: www.flussmuscheln.de