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Alexander Karatayev [00:00:00] In North America, in general, there are about 300 species of mussels, but 20 species already, we think extinct, almost 80 species endangered and 43 threatened.

Alexander Karatayev [00:00:14] So, and why? Because they, they have unique life cycle and life requirements.

Alexander Karatayev [00:00:21] They are filter-feeders. So, they depend on water quality. If the water quality is not good, they filter and eventually accumulate all pollutants that can be devastating.

Alexander Karatayev [00:00:33] They are sedentary. They cannot move to avoid disturbance. There is a drought. There is an oil spill. It's not like fish. They cannot swim away.

Alexander Karatayev [00:00:43] They require certain fish species for reproduction. Fish disappear. Unionid disappear.

Alexander Karatayev [00:00:51] They also are long-lived creatures. They cannot recolonize. There are some species that, like Corbicula, for example, they could die and in a few years later they could recolonize this area and create same or even higher density. For Unionids, it takes so much longer.

Alexander Karatayev [00:01:09] And the combination of all these four characteristics make them so vulnerable.

Alexander Karatayev [00:01:16] And it's going on all over the world, not only in North America. Unfortunately, they're negatively affected by human activities worldwide. Although the specific type of activities can vary from country to country. In Asia, for example, now there is a growing population that simply eats them. You go to a local market and there are thousands and thousands of Unionids, and people buying them to eat them.

Alexander Karatayev [00:01:47] But the good news is that, in many areas, people finally realize that mussels are important. We start investing resources in their protection, and I deeply hope that North America, and especially Texas, will be among the most efficient in this activity.

Alexander Karatayev [00:02:07] But this is when we need public support.