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A western pearlshell mussel's shell is partially open, revealing blue and orange fringe.
Western pearlshell mussel ~(Margaritifera falcata)~. (Photo: Marie Fernandez)

Invertebrates live in every type of aquatic habitat, from streams and seeps to marshes and lakes. Aquatic invertebrates such as stoneflies, mayflies, mussels, and midges play critical roles in sustaining healthy aquatic ecosystems, and are at the center of the aquatic food web. The winged adult forms of many aquatic insects also provide a huge amount of the food for terrestrial birds, bats, and reptiles.

Unfortunately, aquatic invertebrates and the habitats that sustain them are seriously imperiled. In the United States, over half of the wetlands that existed in the 1600s have been lost, and a recent nationwide stream survey found pesticides or their degradates in all the streams sampled. The Xerces Society's endangered species program works to protect aquatic invertebrates and the ecosystems that sustain them. Scroll down or use the search tools to learn more about these important species.


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