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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
Marshall Cohen—researcher and producer, CNN

Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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MUSSELS. Mussels have played an important role in the history of the MISSISSIPPI RIVER. Shells provide important spawning and hiding habitat for many fish and insects. As filter feeders, mussels are primary consumers of plankton making them important elements of food webs of large rivers.

Mussels convert and accumulate nutrients from plankton and bacteria into proteins used by fish and other invertebrates. Sensitive to changes in river habitat and water quality, mussels have been found to be good indicators of environmental change. Different species have certain species of fish that act as hosts for their young. Any reduction in these fish result in fewer mussels. From about 1890 to 1950 mussels were used in the BUTTON INDUSTRY. In recent years, mussel shells have provided the nuclei for cultured pearls.