One of the nation’s most endangered species continues to thrive in the Farmington River. Despite rarely growing larger than 1.5 inches in length, the dwarf wedgemussel is both an indicator, and big contributor to the health of the river.
Once found in rivers far north into Canada, down to the Southern United States, the dwarf wedgemussel is now found in fewer than 20 rivers. Chemicals and sediments that drain from developed areas into nearby rivers have made areas where mussels used to thrive, no longer suitable for habitation.
In other areas where dams and culverts restrict fish passage, mussels have also suffered. Many species of fresh water mussel depend on fish as their larval hosts. Mussels reproduce and attach to fish so they can be carried to new locations. For each species of mussel, only certain species of fish are suitable to carry larvae to new locations. That means that the presence of 12 species of freshwater mussel is an indicator of healthy river with a diverse fish population. The primary fish responsible for dwarf wedgemussel dispersal is the tessellated darter.