The current distribution and status of the freshwater pearl mussel Margaritifera margaritifera L. 1758 in north-west Ireland

C. Beasley, David Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

1.Margaritifera margaritifera populations are declining throughout its range, including Ireland, despite legislation designed to protect freshwater pearl mussels and their habitat. A survey of freshwater 2. pearl mussels was carried out on rivers in County Donegal, north-west Ireland, to determine the current distribution, size and density of M. margaritifera populations, as well as to identify potential threats to mussels there. 3. The survey revealed the freshwater pearl mussel to be widespread, particularly in the western half of the county. However, densities of mussels at most sites are low, with just two sites having mussel densities of over 5?m-2. Furthermore, the species appears to be absent from a number of sites from which it had been previously recorded. 4. According to the literature, there is a long history of pearl fishing in Co. Donegal and neighbouring counties. Evidence from heaps of shells found on the river bed and banks at several sites and recent anecdotal reports from local people suggest pearl fishing is being practised on all rivers investigated during the present study. The main conservation requirements for 5. M. margaritifera populations in Donegal are to maintain water quality at its present high standard and, as pearl fishing appears to be a widespread and immediate threat to the remaining mussel populations, to enforce existing legislation designed to protect M. margaritifera.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-177
Number of pages9
JournalAquatic Conservation Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems
Volume6(3)
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1996

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