2021 AMI Online Salon

The Life History of the Eastern Elliptio mussel

Project Details

  • Entrant Name:  Emily Simpson
  • Client: The National Aquarium, Jack Cover, Jeff Day, Tim Phelps
  • Copyright: Emily Simpson, 2021
  • Medium/software used: Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator
  • Final presentation format: Poster
  • Primary Audience: General lay audience visiting the National Aquarium

Project Description

This piece depicts the life cycle of the Eastern Elliptio mussel, with emphasis on its dependence on the American eel as a host. The viewer is first directed to an inset showing the key interaction between the two species, as the eel transports the mussel larvae. The eel behind the inset directs the viewer’s eye to the next step after metamorphosis, when the larvae drop from the gills and begin to develop. Using the initial inset and eel as a launching pad, the viewer is directed around the life cycle by purple arrows. A curved arrow indicates how sperm is taken up by the adult female. The eggs develop in the marsupia, which is highlighted with purple. Larvae are then released. Insets show microscopic developmental stages. The inset on the top right shows how dams prevent eel populations from traveling upstream, which in turn decreases Eastern Elliptio mussel populations upstream. The release of eels upstream of dams is shown as one of the efforts to help restore mussel populations.