The translocation of freshwater pearl mussels: a review of reasons, methods and success and a new protocol for England

Translocation is the intentional collection, movement and release of plants or animals from one or more places to one or different locations. It is normally undertaken in an attempt to establish, re-establish or augment a population i.e. for conservation purposes, but inappropriate translocations can have the potential to cause considerable damage.

The freshwater pearl mussel (Margaritifera margaritifera) is threatened throughout its global range. Populations in England have undergone severe declines in recent years and local catchment partnerships are now exploring the need to translocate adult pearl mussels to protect remaining populations.

Translocation is an effective conservation tool but its use either on its own or in conjunction with other conservation solutions needs rigorous justification and is seen as a recourse of last resort.

Natural England is responsible for licensing the taking of protected species from the wild for release elsewhere and for issuing consents for the collection of donor stock and for releases where these take place on protected sites (e.g. Natura, Sites of Special Scientific Interest) and we need a protocol we can refer to in situations which may require the translocation of freshwater peal mussels and which can be applied to any river in England or elsewhere.

To provide evidence to develop our protocol we commissioned a wider review of existing knowledge and experience with translocations from across Europe and North America, in addition to a review of the codes and legislation.

For more information, see http://publications.naturalengland.org.uk/publication/5261031582990336

Photo Credit: =mc2 / Flickr

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