This study attempts to identify the habitat requirements of the pearl mussel Margaritifea margaritifera in County Donegal, in north west Ireland, an area with little urban, industrial or intensive agricultural development. No mussels occur in rivers where calcium and conductivity levels are high or where the substratum is predominantly bedrock or fine sediment but it was not possible to distinguish clearly between mussel and non-mussel sites on the basis of ordination analysis. However, rivers which still support mussels and rivers with historical records of mussels are loosely grouped. Rivers which formerly supported mussels but lack living M. margaritifera appear to have suitable habitat for mussels; pearl fishing is the most likely reason for the extinction of these mussel populations. Where population densities are high, for example in locations on the rivers Eske, Clady and Owenea, conservation may necessitate the establishment of reserves. The prospect for the successful reintroduction of mussels into former mussel rivers such as the Finn and Eany Water, where suitable habitat exists and water quality is high, is very good.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Nature and Landscape Conservation
Impact: Environmental Impact, Economic Impact