Freshwater pearl mussels to revive – Eurasia Review
n a new LIFE project funded by the European Commission, the condition and habitats of populations of freshwater pearl mussels (FPM) and their host fish, Atlantic salmon and brown trout, will be improved in Finland, Sweden and in Estonia. The project is led by the University of Jyväskylä.
“We act geographically in the most essential area in relation to the fate of the FPM”, explains the principal researcher of the project, the professor. Jouni Taskinen. “Species conservation efforts are particularly successful here: the prevailing conditions also remain favorable for the sustainable reproduction and survival of FPMs in the future. “
Honeymoons and kindergartens for freshwater pearl mussels
As stimulus actions for FPM populations, specific habitats, called “kindergartens”, are established in their native rivers to achieve a sustainable level of survival for state mussel juveniles.
To save the dying FPM populations, the adult mussels are revived by taking them on a “honeymoon” to the Konnevesi research station. In Estonia and Sweden, juvenile FPM are bred in captivity or by assisted reproduction in their rivers of origin. It is estimated that a total of 24,000 of these mussels will survive to adulthood.
FPM river restoration, drone surveys and more
Project restoration actions include removing barriers to fish migration and improving the natural state of environments in streams previously modified by human actions: the original river beds will be rehydrated, restored rapids and spawning grounds; and timber structures used to promote a variety of water flow conditions. To reduce solid and nutritional loads, buffer zones, sedimentation ponds and wetlands will be constructed and the watershed soil will be limed.
In addition to traditional methods of monitoring the status of FPM and salmonid populations and their habitats, new approaches will be used, such as resistance to shell opening to estimate the physical condition of individual mussels, mussels. aerial surveys by drone and dogs trained to find the FPM. populations.
Disseminate FPM knowledge
To protect and save FPM populations, research knowledge will be disseminated through a range of training events and packages for stakeholders such as forestry and land use professionals and FPM knowledge will also be disseminated to a wider audience through different media.
“For example, forest machine operators need instructions on how to work near FPM rivers,” says Taskinen. “Sharing new knowledge and improved practices with stakeholders is a central part of the project. “
For the benefit of Finnish rivers
The project covers 32 rivers in Finland: from the Karvianjoki and Isojoki rivers in the south, via the Pirkanmaa rivers and several types of rivers in the Iijoki region to the north of Finland to the Simojoki and Luttojoki rivers. A significant amount of restoration actions will be carried out in several FPM rivers in the Iijoki and Emäjoki regions.
The project dramatically improves the possibilities of FPMs to survive future challenges in Finland.
“Stream waters struggled in Finland,” Taskinen explains. “The project not only has a positive effect on FPM, but also on Finnish rivers and streams. LIFE Revives is a remarkable water conservation project, which promotes important, but very difficult, efforts to improve the diversity of the vapor water environment.
Conservation is research-based
Although LIFE projects are mainly conservation projects, scientific research plays a central role. The methods used in conservation actions, results and impacts are evaluated and controlled so as to meet scientific criteria.
“The project places the University of Jyväskylä and Finland at the forefront of international research,” explains Taskinen.
Big competition for LIFE projects
The six-year LIFE Revives: Reviving Freshwater Mussels and their habitats project, led by the University of Jyväskylä, started on September 1, 2021. The total budget for the project amounts to almost $ 15.9 million. euros.
LIFE projects are major flagship initiatives in the field of environmental protection. In Finland, LIFE Revives is unprecedented in terms of budget and scale. According to Taskinen, this took many years of preparatory work with the project partners.
“Obtaining the grant demonstrates the confidence placed in us by the European Commission”, declares Professor Taskinen