On the Radio: Freshwater Clam Research

Photo by user tlindenbaum; Flickr

This week’s On the Radio segment covers research being done at the University of Iowa that looks into the relationship between freshwater clams and excess nitrogen in rivers. Listen to the audio below, or continue reading for the transcript.

A University of Iowa faculty member is studying freshwater clams.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

Assistant Professor Craig Just, from the UI Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, is trying to find ways to restore river habitats that have been depleted by excessive algal blooms.

These are caused by nitrogen runoff from farm fertilizers, and contribute to the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.

Freshwater clams, or mussels, feed on algae and small organisms in the river, thus consuming the nitrogen found in it.

Professor Just studies how the mussels process the nitrogen they consume. Once this is understood, researchers will know whether mussels remove or add nitrogen to the rivers.

With this knowledge researchers can create better river restoration projects that address excess nitrogen runoff, and ultimately try to reduce the size of the dead zone.

For more information on freshwater mussel research, visit iowaenvironmentalfocus.org.

From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Jerry Schnoor.

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