• freshwater mussel culturing;
  • propagation;
  • M. margaritifera;
  • captive breeding


  1. Freshwater mussels are in decline throughout their range. The lack of natural recruitment in freshwater pearl mussel populations and other freshwater molluscs has led to controversies about the usefulness and applicability of captive breeding techniques for their conservation.
  2. The current state of rearing and culturing programmes for freshwater mussels in Europe and North America is reviewed here with a focus on the endangered freshwater pearl mussel (Margaritifera margaritifera). Different strategies of propagation and the key factors of success are addressed and conservation management decisions are discussed with respect to risk reduction and the intensity of the culturing system.
  3. Based on the rearing techniques applied for multiple species in North America, and for the genus Margaritifera in European countries, sufficient numbers of juveniles can be produced to sustain selected populations. However, captive breeding and stocking should be carefully documented and must not replace the restoration of functional stream habitats.
  4. From a conservation point of view, captive breeding of endangered mussel species can be a last-minute rescue tool in order to retain the evolutionary potential of priority populations which would not persist long enough to benefit from habitat restoration practices.

    Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.