The Mississippi River is one of the world's major river systems in size, habitat diversity and biological productivity. It is the third longest river in North America, flowing 2,350 miles from its source at Lake Itasca through the center of the continental United States to the Gulf of Mexico. The Mississippi River and its floodplain are home to a diverse population of living things: At least 260 species of fish, 25% of all fish species in North America; Forty percent of the nation's migratory waterfowl use the river corridor during their Spring and Fall migration; Sixty percent of all North American birds (326 species) use the Mississippi River Basin as their migratory flyway; From Cairo, IL upstream to Lake Itasca there are 38 documented species of mussel. On the Lower Mississippi, there may be as many as 60 separate species of mussel; The Upper Mississippi is host to more than 50 mammal species; At least 145 species of amphibians and reptiles inhabit the Upper Mississippi River environs.
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