Laboratory measures of filtration by freshwater mussels: An activity to introduce biology students to an increasingly threatened group of organisms

Michael J. Smith, Julie J. Shaffer, Keith D. Koupal, W. Wyatt Hoback

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Many aquatic organisms survive by filter feeding from the surrounding water and capturing food particles. We developed a laboratory exercise that allows students to measure the effects of filtering by fresh water mussels on water turbidity. Mussels were acquired from Wards Scientific and exposed to a solution of baker's yeast. Over a period of one to two hours, students measured changes in water clarity using miniature Secchi discs. The exercise has been used in a freshwater biology class at a state university. This exercise allows students to make hypotheses, gather data, and explore interactions between living organisms and their environment. Many North American species of freshwater mussels are threatened or endangered because of habitat changes and the introduction of exotic mussels. Therefore, students are also able to examine the potential effects of biodiversity loss in aquatic environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10-15
Number of pages6
JournalBioscene
Volume38
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2012

Keywords

  • Ecology
  • Filter feeding
  • Freshwater mussel
  • Macroinvertebrate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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