Rice, Michael A. Department of Fish, Animal and Veterinary Science, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, Rhode Island.
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One of the seven existing classes in the phylum Mollusca; sometimes known as Pelecypoda. All members of the Bivalvia (bivalves) are aquatic, living at all depths of the sea and in brackish waters and freshwaters. With about 25,000 living species (Fig. 1), Bivalvia is second to class Gastropoda (over 74,000 living species) in molluscan species diversity. However, the total biomass of bivalves is much greater, and certain bivalve species are numerically dominant in many benthic ecosystems. The most primitive bivalves are infaunal, burrowing into soft sediments, but many families are epifaunal, attached to rocks or shells or residing on the sediment surface. Bivalves are well represented in the fossil record from the Early Paleozoic because of their calcareous shells. See also: Mollusca
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