22 Feb 2016

Conservation status of the rarest bivalve in African fresh waters

A study conducted by CIIMAR researchers alert for the conservation status of freshwater mussel species Margaritifera Marocana (Pallary, 1918) that is listed as critically endangered by the IUCN.

Between July and August 2015  researchers visited 36 locations along the Oum Er Rbia river basin (Rivers Derna, Laabid and Oum Er Rbia) to assess the distribution, abundance, population structure and genetic diversity of M. marocana. Just one specimen was found on River Oum Er Rbia and none on River Derna; however, a high abundance was found in the lower section of River Laabid.

Contrary to earlier information, which reported an overall population size fewer than 250 individuals in a restricted area and no juvenile presence, this study showed that a much higher abundance exists in River Laabid alone. In addition, the species is present in more than 50km of this river and is still recruiting since small specimens were found.

The results of this study, entitled "Pearl mussels (Margaritifera Marocana) in Morocco: Conservation status of the rarest bivalve in African fresh waters" and published in the Science of the Total Environment Journal, may be used as a reference to the present conservation status of M. marocana, and guide future research and management initiatives to better conserve it.