Anodonta cygnea


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Anodonta cygnea
Species Authority: (Linnaeus, 1758)
Common Name/s:
English Swan Mussel

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2011
Date Assessed: 2011-07-22
Assessor/s: Vinarski, M.
Reviewer/s: Böhm, M. & Collen, B.
Anodonta cygnea has been assessed as Least Concern. This species is geographically widespread throughout Europe, Russia and parts of the Middle East, occurring in a wide variety of different habitats. Whilst it is known that population abundance is currently declining on a local scale, global population trends are unknown. In parts of its European range this species has legal protection and is listed on national Red Lists, but the effectiveness of these measures is not known. Further research into species population trends, abundance and the threats impacting this species on a global scale are required if this species is to be elevated to a threat category in future.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species can be found throughout Europe as far east as Siberia (Zettler et al. 2006). However, there are no data to support species presence within Siberia (Vinarski et al. 2007). Mozley (1936) also described this species from northern Asia. It has also been recorded in Iran (Pourang et al. 2009). In Russia, it is found throughout the European part of the state (Kantor et al. 2009).
Albania; Andorra; Armenia (Armenia, Armenia); Austria; Belarus; Belgium; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Croatia; Czech Republic; Denmark; Estonia; Finland; France (France (mainland)); Germany; Greece (Greece (mainland)); Hungary; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Ireland; Italy (Italy (mainland)); Kazakhstan; Luxembourg; Netherlands; Norway; Poland; Portugal (Portugal (mainland)); Romania; Russian Federation (Central European Russia, East European Russia, North European Russia, Northwest European Russia, South European Russia); Serbia (Kosovo, Serbia, Serbia); Slovakia; Slovenia; Spain (Spain (mainland)); Sweden; Switzerland; Turkey (Turkey-in-Asia, Turkey-in-Europe); Ukraine (Ukraine (main part)); United Kingdom (Great Britain); Yemen (North Yemen, South Yemen)
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Although this species is widespread and considered fairly common (Zettler et al. 2006), in Poland this species has been declining since the 1950s due to habitat degradation and pollution (Zając 2005). In Britain, river management strategy includes the dredging of rivers which can remove 20% of British subpopulations (Aldridge 2001). No detailed population trend data is known.
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species primarily inhabits closed off and small waters such as ponds and peatlands, but can also be found occupying lakes and slow-flowing lowland rivers (Zettler et al. 2006). It is also found in canals, drainage dykes and dam reservoirs (Killeen et al. 2004). The species appears to prefer waterbodies characterised by high concentrations of dissolved oxygen (a likely consequence of the species' fast growth and large size), free from floating vegetation and with fertile bottom sediments (Zając 2002, Rosińska et al. 2008). The species is intolerant of poor enivironmental conditions, and can be used as a bioindicator of clean water (Rosińska et al. 2008). When present, it is often the only mussel species inhabiting these areas (Zettler et al. 2006).
Systems: Freshwater

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This species has been badly impacted by the zebra mussel Dreissena polymorpha and has suffered localised declines in areas where this species has invaded its habitats (Byrne et al. 2009). In the absence of suitable substrate, Anodonta species are known to be a preferred settlement site for zebra mussels. Heavy infestations can affect the feeding, respiration and reproduction of unionid bivalves, causing mortality and eliminating entire populations (Rosell et al. 1999). The continued range expansion of D. polymorpha into suitable habitat is likely to further impact this species' population numbers (Byrne et al. 2009).

Localised declines have been reported in Poland as a result of habitat degradation, water pollution and eutrophication (Dyduch-Falniowska 1992, cited in Mills and Reynolds 2004). The species is also threatened as a result of poaching for supply in artificial basins and garden ponds (Rosińska et al. 2008). In Britain, poor river management is a significant threat to the species: dredging occurs approximately every ten years and can remove 20% of unioid populations (Aldridge 2001).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: In Poland, this species has been protected by law since 1995 and is listed as Endangered on the Polish Red List (Zając 2005). This species has special status in Germany by the BArtSchV (Anlage I) legislation (Federal Species Regulation) (Zettler et al. 2006), and is listed with a status of 2 - 'highly endangered' (Byrne et al. 2009). It is also listed on the local Red List of endangered animals of Brandenburg and of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in Germany with a status of 3 - 'threatened' (Rosińska et al. 2008). The species is classified as Vulnerable under criterion A4ce on the Irish Red List No. 2 (Non-Marine Molluscs) (Byrne et al. 2009). It is also listed as Vulnerable on the Red List of threatened species of the Czech Republic (Farkač et al. 2005), and as Endangered on the Norwegian Red List (Byrne et al. 2009). Further research is currently needed into the species' global population to assess the impacts of the documented threat processes.

Bibliography [top]

Aldridge, D. 2001. Conservation of unionid mussels in Britain. In: The Malacological society of London (ed.), Freshwater Bivalves.

Byrne, A., Moorkens, E.A., Anderson, R., Killeen, I.J. and Regan, E.C. 2009. Ireland Red List No. 2 – Non- Marine Molluscs. National Parks and Wildlife Service. Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government,, Dublin, Ireland.

Farkač, J., Král, D., and Škorpík, M. 2005. List of Threatened Species in the Czech Republic - Invertebrates. Agentura ochrany prírody a krajiny CR, Prague.

IUCN. 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2011.2). Available at: (Accessed: 10 November 2011).

Kantor, Y.I., Schileyko, A.A., Vinarski, M.V. and Sysoev, A.V. 2009. Catalogue of the continental mollusks of Russia and adjacent territories.

Killeen, I., Aldridge, D. and Oliver, G. 2004. Freshwater Bivalves of Britain and Ireland. FSC.

Mills, S.C. and Reynolds, J.D. 2004. The importance of species interactions in conservation: the endangered European bitterling Rhodeus serceus and its freshwater mussel hosts. Animal Conservation 7: 257-263.

Mozley, A. 1936. The Freshwater and terrestrial mollusca of Northern Asia. Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 58(3): 605-696.

Polish Red Data Book. 2002. Anodonta cygnea. Instytut Ochrony Przyrody PAN, Krakow.

Pourang, N., Richardson, C.A. and Mortazavi, M.S. 2009. Heavy metal concentrations in the soft tissues of swan mussel ( Anodonta cygnea ) and surficial sediments from Anzali wetland, Iran. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment.

Rosell, R.S., Maguire, C.M. and McCarthy, T.K. 1999. First reported settlement of zebra mussels Dreissena polymorpha in the Erne system, Co. Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. Biology and Environment: Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 98B(3): 191-193.

Rosińska, B., Chojnacki, J.C., Lewandowska, A., Matwiejczuk, A. and Samiczak, A. 2008. Biometrics of swan mussels (Anodonta cygnea) from chosen lakes in the Pomeranian Region. Limnological Review 8(1-2): 79-84.

Vinarski, M.V., Karimov, A.V., Grebennikov, M.E. and Lazutkina, E.A. 2007. Aquatic Gastropods of the Ilmeny State Reserve (Southern Urals, Russia). Tentacle 15.

Zając, K. 2002. Habitat preferences of swan mussel Anodonta cygnea (Linnaeus 1758) (Bivalvia, Unionidae) in relation to structure and successional stage of floodplain waterbodies. Ekológia (Bratislava) 21(4): 345-355.

Zając, K. 2005. Anodonta cygnea. In: Głowaciński, Z. and Nowacki, J. (eds), Polish Red Data Book of Animals: Invertebrates, pp. 349-351. Krakow.

Zettler, M.L., Jueg, U., Menzel-Harloff, H., Göllnitz, U., Petrick, S., Weber, E. and Seemann, R. 2006. Die Land- und Süßwassermollusken Mecklenburg-Vorpommerns. Obotritendruck Schwerin.

Citation: Vinarski, M. 2011. Anodonta cygnea. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <>. Downloaded on 17 April 2014.
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