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Freshwater Invertebrates Project

Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ is working with the New Jersey Endangered and Nongame Species Program to survey for freshwater invertebrates across the state and evaluate their conservation status.

Image of Eastern elliptio.Zoom+ Eastern elliptio. © Mike Davenport

Freshwater invertebrates include a wide range of very different groups of species including crustaceans, such as crayfish and fairy shrimp; mollusks, such as freshwater mussels; and some insects, such as dragonflies and damselflies.

Although freshwater invertebrates often go unnoticed, they are important indicators of water quality. Freshwater invertebrates are sensitive to chemicals and pollutants within the water. Rivers and streams which are home to a large number of invertebrate species are generally healthy waterways. Likewise, water bodies lacking such life may be degraded and unsafe as sources of drinking water.

One in ten of North America’s freshwater mussel species has gone extinct in this century. Meanwhile, 75% of the remaining freshwater mussel species are either rare or imperiled and half of all crayfish species are in jeopardy. This alarming decline is directly tied to the degradation and loss of essential habitat, and the invasion of exotic species. Loss of vernal pool habitat also threatens populations of fairy shrimp. Fairy shrimp are tiny crustaceans which make their home within vernal pools, small temporary bodies of fresh water that provide important habitat for both invertebrates and vertebrates, such as frogs and salamanders.

Image of Widow skimmer.Zoom+ Widow skimmer. © Mike Davenport

Currently, CWF, in partnership with the New Jersey Endangered and Nongame Species Program, is conducting the state’s conservation status review of several species of freshwater mussels. As a result of that effort, it is hoped that there will be a greater understanding of whether any native species are in need of further protection due to an imperiled status. In addition, surveys are on-going for both freshwater mussels and crustaceans in order to determine population sizes and distributions across the state. For more information regarding freshwater mussel distribution in New Jersey, please click here.

Learn More:

Contact Us:

Michael J. Davenport, GIS Program Manager: Email

Find Related Info: Invertebrates

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