Abbie Gascho Landis

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The Science and Mystery of Freshwater Mussels

Island Press

"This is nature writing at its best." —E.O. Wilson

"Eloquent treatise...Landis's book is as much call to action as paean to mesmerizing molluscs." —Nature

"Rich, accurate, and moving." —New Scientist

"A lyrical love letter to the imperiled freshwater mussel." —Science

Abbie Gascho Landis first fell for freshwater mussels while pregnant and submerged in an Alabama creek, watching a female filter the water through her body while her gills bulged with offspring. In that moment of connection, Landis became a mussel groupie, obsessed with learning more about the creatures’ hidden lives. She isn’t the only fanatic; the shy mollusks, so vital to the health of rivers around the world, have a way of inspiring unusual devotion. In Immersion: The Science and Mystery of Freshwater Mussels, Landis brings readers to a hotbed of mussel diversity, the American Southeast, to seek mussels where they eat, procreate, and, too often, perish. Landis shares her journey from perilous river surveys to dry streambeds and into laboratories where endangered mussels are raised one life at a time.

Mussels have much to teach us about the health of the watershed if we step into the creek and take a closer look at their lives. In turns joyful and sobering, Immersion is an invitation to see rivers from a mussel’s perspective, a celebration of the wild lives visible to those who learn to search.

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