The freshwater mussel (Unionida) fauna of the Yangtze River is among the most diverse on Earth. In recent decades, human activities have caused habitat degradation in the river, and previous studies estimated that up to 80% of the mussel species in the Yangtze River are Threatened or Near Threatened with extinction. However, a comprehensive and systematic evaluation of the conservation status of this fauna has yet to be completed. This study evaluated the conservation status of the 69 recognized freshwater mussel species in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, using the criteria published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). A new method for prioritizing species for conservation was then developed and applied termed Quantitative Assessment of Species for Conservation Prioritization (QASCP), which prioritizes species according to quantifiable data on their distribution and population status, life history, and recovery importance and potential. IUCN assessments showed that 35 (51%) species in the study region are Threatened or Near Threatened (11 Endangered, 20 Vulnerable, 4 Near Threatened). In addition, 16 species (23%) could not be assessed owing to data deficiency. Key threats to the freshwater mussel biodiversity of the Yangtze River include pollution, habitat loss and fragmentation, loss of access to host fish, and overharvesting of mussels and their host fish. The genera Aculamprotula, Gibbosula, Lamprotula, Pseudodon, Ptychorhynchus, and Solenaia were identified as particularly threatened. Data availability allowed QASCP assessment of 44 species. Only Solenaia carinata, regionally Endangered under IUCN criteria, achieved the highest QASCP rank, i.e. First Priority. The five species assessed as Second Priority were considered either regionally Endangered (one), Vulnerable (three), or Data Deficient (one) under IUCN criteria. The 23 Third Priority species were assessed as regionally Endangered (two), Vulnerable (15), Near Threatened (two), or Least Concern (four).
|Journal||AQUATIC CONSERVATION-MARINE AND FRESHWATER ECOSYSTEMS|
|State||Published - 2020|