BiodiverseCity St. Louis

BiodiverseCity St. Louis is a growing network of organizations and individuals throughout the greater St. Louis region who share a stake in improving quality of life for all through actions that welcome nature into our urban, suburban and rural communities. Learn more about this effort, and join in.

Take Action Today…and Make It Count

Throughout St. Louis, every day, people are making big and small changes to their backyards, balconies, streetscapes, schoolyards, parking lots, and play areas. Some are doing this because they love nature and want to experience more of it in their daily lives. Others recognize that native plants in the right places help prevent flooding, clean and cool our air and improve human health and well-being. Still others embrace the positive impact that leafy streets, accessible parks, hiking/biking trails and other quality green spaces have on property values and the economic vibrancy of our region.

For all these reasons and more, the BiodiverseCitySTL Network invites each of the 2.9 million citizens of the greater St. Louis bi-state region to take action. In this spirit, we are excited to launch the Nature in Our Neighborhoods citizen action project. No matter who you are or where you live, all of us can do something to beautify, bio-diversify and better the communities in which we live, work, learn and play. To get started, check out our curated list of expert ideas and local resources from across our region, connect with others and share your stories.


Species Spotlight

Freshwater mussels
These colorful shells are the remains of mussels eaten by raccoons. Photo by Chris Barnhart (Unio Gallery at Missouri State University).
Freshwater mussels
(primarily in the family Unionidae)

This fascinating group of mollusks lives in the muddy banks of our region’s creeks, streams, rivers, and lakes. Also known as freshwater pearl mussels, or unionids and naiads, nearly 300 species occur in North America, with approximately 75 living in Missouri and Illinois waters. Facing threats such as destabilized streambanks, invasive species competition, and more, nearly half of these are of conservation concern. For millions of years, unionids have played an under-celebrated role in our planet’s ever-evolving story, and in our current Anthropocene era, they’ve been harvested, traded, turned into tools, and otherwise used for centuries. The key to their survival going forward will require intentional and science-driven habitat restoration. Close to home, Missouri Department of Conservation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, other agencies, universities, and environmental organizations are working together to artificially propagate and restock populations of the most endangered and at-risk mussel species.

Known by some ecologists as “silent sentinels,” sitting humbly and quietly in the water, freshwater mussels are indicator species for water quality and ecological functionality, alerting us to whether water is clean enough for both people and livestock to drink. They bio-accumulate contaminants, not only serving as nature’s reliable vacuum cleaners, but as scientists’ sources of data and evidence. Mussels are favorite food for raccoons, mink, otters, some waterfowl, and fish. During winter, muskrats likely subsist on freshwater mussels, leaving shell-laden midden heaps on stream banks as evidence.

Random commentary from the BDCstl crew:
Okay, so we LOVE the fantastic names and brilliant colors of some of our local unionids, and they make us want to know more about them. How can you not be lured in by the iridescent whites and shiny purples and pinks of pimpleback, elephantear, rabbitsfoot, spectaclecase, or pink heelsplitter? Seriously, kudos to the cool people who named these.

To do…NOT: While we try to keep it positive around here, putting the emphasis on what we can all do, occasionally we feel compelled to squeak in a “what not to do.” Our freshwater mussel friends cannot tolerate a shifting, unstable stream bottom, relying on a stable habitat of rocks, sand, cobble, or boulders to secure themselves to in their otherwise turbulent little world. While stone-stacking in streams, creeks, and rivers may seem like a harmless way to connect with the great outdoors, here’s an article that reminded us of all the drama, relationships, connections, and beautiful life happening out of sight. Leave no trace, friends.


Featured Partner Programs

Milkweeds for Monarchs logo   Bring Conservation Home logo   Operation Clean Stream logo   Show Me Rain Gardens logo
A Community Initiative to Promote, Protect and Plan for Biodiversity Throughout the Greater St. Louis Region

Great American Total Solar Eclipse

Solar eclipseAugust 21
Fo the first time in almost 40 years, a total eclipse of the sun will be visible in the continental U.S., with several locations in the greater St. Louis region in the path of totality. Here are a few select events happening at places that are part of the BiodiverseCitySTL network: 
Nearby Nature

Nearby Nature map

Spend more of 2017 exploring and stewarding St. Louis' great outdoors. Download our 2017 Nearby Nature Map featuring 50 places to love and 100 things to do!