Freshwater mussels (family Unionidae, also referred to as freshwater pearly mussels, unionids, or naiades) are one of North America’s most endangered faunal groups. Near unanimity exists in characterizations of the imperilment of these ecologically, economically, and culturally important bivalve mollusks. Freshwater mussels are a renewable resource supporting a shell industry in the United States valued at $40–50 million annually . In addition to being a food source for aquatic and terrestrial vertebrates, this diverse fauna helps stabilize sediment  and provides critical nutrient and energy cycling in streams and lakes by filtering phytoplankton, bacteria, and particulate organic matter from the water column . Thirty-five species of freshwater mussels are extinct , 70 species are listed as threatened or endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (www.fws.gov/endangered/wildlife.html), and nearly 180 species are identified as critically imperiled or vulnerable (www.natureserve.org/explorer). Declines in freshwater mussels are not unique to North America , but because the taxon reaches its greatest richness here, impacts are especially noteworthy.