This lesson was developed by Craig Thompson, EPA Region 7 Biologist
Kansas State Standards can be downloaded in Word format from our school standards page
Method: Walk along a sandbar or stretch of the river looking for empty mussel shells with your students. Alternatively, place a variety of mussel shells collected from the Kansas River on a table for students to examine.
Instructor will: Present in a lecture format an explanation of the basic anatomy and ecology of mussels based on the outline and illustrations provided in this lesson. It is especially effective to pass around empty mussel shells during the lecture and tell the students that these are often found along the river and that they can begin their own collection.
Students will: Students will demonstrate an understanding that mussels are an important part of the aquatic ecosystem by describing what changes they would expect if all mussels were lost through extinction, compared to a river with a healthy population of mussels, compared to what would happen if large populations of introduced zebra mussels were to take over a system
Evaluation: Knowledge of basic anatomy will be demonstrated by having students draw a snail and a mussel and illustrate the main differences.
Students will demonstrate: An understanding of how the differences between snails and mussels lead to different lifestyles and ecology, and how that affects the river.
Resources: A set of lecture notes and illustrations are provided on the Mussel Lecture page. The species list anillustrations
are downloadable as separate files in PDF format. A PDF file containing
the lesson plan, lecture, and supplemental materials can be downloaded from the attachment section at the bottom of this page.