User Tools

Site Tools


Freshwater mussel biodiversity: How do different species fit together in a river to improve environmental health?

Author Information

* Name: Dr Carla Atkinson, Dr Jeff Lozier

* Position: University of Alabama, Department of Biological Sciences * Contact: Carla: carla.l.atkinson [at], jlozier [at]



  • Grade Level: 6-8
  • Alabama Course of Study: Grade 7 Science (Standards 6, 7, 9, 11)


The southeast USA has the highest diversity of freshwater animals in North America. One of these taxonomic groups, the freshwater mussels, plays a critical role in our river ecosystems through their filter-feeding. Alabama hosts 180 species of freshwater mussels. How can so many species co-exist and how is this diversity important for a healthy ecosystem?

In this lesson, students will learn about the astounding diversity of freshwater mussels and their incredible life history. After an introduction to this diversity, students will be presented with 3D models of mussels and information on their traits and how they impact water quality. Students will play a game to match the mussels to their habitats and learn about how mussels clean their water. They will apply this knowledge to how biodiversity may impact water quality. The students will have the option to draw a diagram highlighting how mussels interact with their environment.

Keywords: Freshwater mussels, biodiversity, animals, aquatic ecology, organisms, ecosystem, form and function, adaption,


Back to the list

alabama/freshwater_mussel_biodiversity.txt · Last modified: 2021/04/22 14:54 by alabama