Freshwater pearl mussel and Painter’s mussel were previously abundant species in German running waters. For several decades mussel stocks decreased dramatically. The current stock of Freshwater pearl mussel is immediately threatened by extinction and in the case of Painter’s mussel the status is threatened. The remaining, representative populations are strongly overaged due to lack of reproduction, are isolated relict populations with low genetic diversity.
Goals of the ArKoNaVera project, which is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, are stabilisation of endangered river mussel populations, restoration of their natural reproduction and conservation of genetic diversity. First of all, a professional decision-making tool will be developed and implemented on the basis of a river mussel database. This step is important for identification of suitable mussel habitats and analysis of efficient and cost effective measures for improvement of potential mussel habitats. Habitat restoration measures include purchase or exchange of agricultural and rural areas, landscape conservation, improvement of water bodies as well as land-use change in the catchment area.
The whole process is performed in close cooperation with four implementation partners and four research partners. The implementation of appropriate measures is carried out in pilot regions where best practice examples and methods will be developed for conservation of river mussel populations as well as for the evaluation of the performed activities. The pilot regions are located in Lower Bavaria, in Saxony`s Vogtland and in Upper Lausitz Heath and Pond Landscape.