Epioblasma torulosa - (Rafinesque, 1820)
Tubercled Blossom
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Epioblasma torulosa (Rafinesque, 1820) (TSN 80337)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.113554
Element Code: IMBIV16180
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Invertebrates - Mollusks - Freshwater Mussels
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Mollusca Bivalvia Unionoida Unionidae Epioblasma
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Turgeon, D.D., J.F. Quinn, Jr., A.E. Bogan, E.V. Coan, F.G. Hochberg, W.G. Lyons, P.M. Mikkelsen, R.J. Neves, C.F.E. Roper, G. Rosenberg, B. Roth, A. Scheltema, F.G. Thompson, M. Vecchione, and J.D. Williams. 1998. Common and scientific names of aquatic invertebrates from the United States and Canada: Mollusks. 2nd Edition. American Fisheries Society Special Publication 26, Bethesda, Maryland: 526 pp.
Concept Reference Code: B98TUR01EHUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Epioblasma torulosa
Taxonomic Comments: Epioblasma is comprised of several recognized forms (torulosa, gubernaculum, rangiana, and cincinnatiensis), but it is not clear whether these forms represent ecophenotypic variation, true subspecies, or a species complex. The entire species group exhibits considerable ecophenotypic variation. Epioblasma was formerly placed in the genera Unio, Truncilla, and Dysnomia (Johnson, 1978).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G2
Global Status Last Reviewed: 23Dec2011
Global Status Last Changed: 30Jan1998
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: As a whole the species has experienced a greater than 95% range reduction. All subspecies are thought to be extirpated except for Epioblasma torulosa rangiana which is extant in short stretches of eight to ten rivers that are largely disjunct, small, and peripheral.
Nation: United States
National Status: N2 (11May2006)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N1 (01Aug2017)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alabama (SX), Illinois (SX), Indiana (SNR), Kentucky (S1), Michigan (SNR), New York (SH), Ohio (SNR), Pennsylvania (SNR), Tennessee (SNA), Virginia (SX), West Virginia (S1)
Canada Ontario (S1)

Other Statuses

Implied Status under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (USESA): PS
Comments on USESA: Subspecies rangiana and gubernaculum are designated endangered. Subspecies torulosa is listed endangered throughout its range, except where listed as an experimental nonessential population.
Implied Status under the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC):E
IUCN Red List Category: CR - Critically endangered
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species Protection Status (CITES): Appendix II

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 1000-5000 square km (about 400-2000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: This species group was once found throughout the Tennessee, Cumberland, Ohio, and St. Lawrence river drainages. The only extant member of this group is Epioblasma torulosa rangiana which was known historically from the Ohio River basin, western Lake Erie, and the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers, but is currently extant in only seven streams; the Green River in Kentucky, French and LeBoeuf Creeks and the Allegheny River in Pennsylvania, the Detroit River in Michigan (possibly extirpated- see below), and Big Darby Creek in Ohio (USFWS, 1993), and recently discovered in at least one additional river in Ontario (Metcalfe-Smith et al., 1998). Staton et al. (2000) lists historical and present distribution. Recently found in Conewanto Creek near Warren, Warren Co., Pennsylvania, where it was previously thought to be extirpated (Evans and Smith, 2005). In Illinois, it formerly occupied the Vermilion, Wabash, and Ohio Rivers but is now extirpated in the state (Cummings and Mayer, 1997). As for the other members of this group, Epioblasma torulosa torulosa was historically regarded as the mainstream or big river form in the Tennessee and Ohio River systems, and Epioblasma torulosa gubernaculum was regarded as the headwater form in the Tennessee River system (above Knoxville). This subspecies is likely extinct with the last population known from the upper Clinch River above the backwater impoundment of Norris Reservoir with the last live specimens collected in 1983 and 1984 in Scott Co., Virginia (USFWS, 1984). There are also numerous specimens of the Epioblasma torulosa group from archealogical sites along the Cumberland River around Nashville (A. Bogan, pers. comm., 1997). Nominal subspecies, Epioblasma torulosa torulosa, historically found across northern Alabama in the Tennessee River but not reported (except as dead weathered shells) since the river was impounded, and is likely extirpated (Mirarchi, 2004). Recently this species has been confirmed to be likely extirpated from the main channel of the Detroit River between Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie, Michigan/Ontario; due to zebra mussel invasion (Schloesser et al., 2006).

Epioblasma torulosa torulosa:
This big river form of Epioblasma torulosa was historically found throughout the Tennessee River system (including the Elk, Nolichucky and Duck Rivers); was probably rare in the Cumberland River; also reported from the Ohio, Kentucky, Scioto (Ohio) and Kanawha (West Virginia) Rivers; and likely widespread in the larger rivers of the eastern United States and southern Ontario, Canada (USFWS, 1985).

Area of Occupancy: 126-12,500 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments:  

Number of Occurrences: 6 - 20
Number of Occurrences Comments: Epioblasma torulosa gubernaculum:
This subspecies is likely extinct with the last population known from the upper Clinch River above the backwater impoundment of Norris Reservoir with the last live specimens collected in 1983 and 1984 in Scott Co., Virginia (USFWS, 1984).

Epioblasma torulosa rangiana:
Epioblasma torulosa rangiana, the only remaining extant subspecies, was formerly widespread in the Ohio River basin (including Ohio River system in Ohio River at Cincinnati, Little Miami, Scioto, Muskingham, and Olentangy Rivers, and Big Darby Creek- a tributary of the Scioto River; Beaver River in Ohio and Pennsylvania; Lake Erie drainage in Fish Creek, and Kanawha River, West Virginia; Wabash River and tributaries-Tippecanoe River and the Eel, Blue, and White Rivers) (Parmalee and Bogan, 1998) as well as having been collected historically from the Allegheny River drainage in Pennsylvania above Pittsburgh and from the West Fork River (Ortmann, 1913), a tributary of the Monongahela River, Harrison Co., West Virginia (Parmalee and Bogan, 1998; USFWS, 1994). This subspecies now exists in eight to ten isolated populations, most of which are small and peripheral and with little signs of reproduction. It is known from the Kentucky, Licking, and Green River drainages in Kentucky (Johnson, 1978), but is likely only still extant in the Upper Green. In the Maumee River drainage, it was last seen in Fish Creek (St. Joseph drainage) in Ohio and Indiana, where live individuals were very rare (Watters, 1995; Grabarkiewicz and Crail, 2006). Recently found in Conewango Creek near Warren, Warren Co., Pennsylvania, where it was previously thought to be extirpated (Evans and Smith, 2005). It also occurs in the Allegheny River, Pennsylvania (Jones, 2004). Epioblasma torulosa rangiana occurs in Muddy Creek (French Creek drainage) in the Erie NWR in Crawford Co., Pennsylvania (Mohler et al., 2006) and elsewhere in the French Creek drainage. Weathered shells are reported from the Tippecanoe River (shell only- Cummings and Berlocher, 1990), Sugar Creek (east fork White River drainage) in central Indiana (Harmon, 1992) as well as throughout most central Indiana drainages but no living specimens are known recently (USFWS, 1994) and Fisher (2006) lists it as extirpated from the Wabash drainage. As such, it is likely extirpated from the rest of Indiana except possibly the Tippecanoe drainage where it might still be hanging on (USFWS, 1994). Specimens from the Black River (St. Clair drainage), Michigan, were relocated to the Detroit River in 1992 (Trdan and Hoeh, 1993). It is historically known from the Clinton River drainage in Michigan (Strayer, 1980). In Canada, it historically occurred in the Cedar River and currently occurs in the Sydenham River in the Northern Lake Erie drainage (Metcalfe-Smith et al., 2003) and also the Ausable River in the Eastern Lake Huron drainage (Staton et al., 2000).

Epioblasma torulosa torulosa:
This species is now globally extinct. This form inhabited the Tennessee River from Knox Co., Tennessee, to Muscle Shoals in northern Alabama, and downstream probably to the Ohio River and was also found inthe Elk and Paint Rock Rivers in northern Alabama (Parmalee and Bogan, 1998), but has not been reported since the Tennessee River was impounded (Mirarchi, 2004). One specimen was collected in 1969 from the Kanawha River in West Virginia but subsequent surveys revealed no other evidence of a population and no prior records are known from that river (USFWS, 1985).

Population Size: 1000 - 10,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Due to problems obtaining a unbiased and complete sample, abundance in mussels is always difficult to estimate, and no estimates of population size or abundance have been made for this species.

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Very few (1-3)
Viability/Integrity Comments: The only populations of Epioblasma torulosa rangiana with evidence of recruitment are two in Pennsylvania and the Sydenham River population in Ontario (Staton et al., 2000).

Overall Threat Impact: Very high - high
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Members of this genus seem to be particularly sensitive to impoundments; most species are riffle/run inhabitants and cannot tolerate other habitats. Impoundment by the Norris Reservoir of the Clinch River in Tennessee has resulted in the extirpation of the majority of species below the dam (Ahlstedt, 1984). The construction of the Wilson Dam on the Tennessee River has eliminated 20 of the original 22 Cumberlandian naiad species (Stansbery, 1971). Plans to impound the Duck River in Tennessee where Athearn found Epioblasma torulosa torulosa (Bogan and Parmalee, 1983) have been halted (Jenkinson, 1981). The existing populations are predominately in mountainous areas with minimal agriculture bounding the rivers. These areas are impacted by quarry washings and fly ash runoff. USFWS (1994) lists the following reasons for decline: siltation, impoundment, instream sand and gravel mining, pollutants, and invasive species.

Short-term Trend: Decline of >70%
Short-term Trend Comments: The subspecies Epioblasma torulosa rangiana (the only extant subspecies) has experienced greater than a 95% range reduction (USFWS, 1993; 1994; Staton et al., 2000). The other two subspecies, Epioblasma torulosa gubernaculum and Epioblasma torulosa torulosa have declined to extinction (USFWS, 1984; 1984; 1993; 1994). The northern riffleshell was listed as a federally endangered species in February of 1993. It was also considered to be Endangered by the freshwater mussel subcommittee of the endangered species committee of the American Fisheries Society (Williams et al., 1993). In the Midwest, the northern riffleshell was widely distributed and relatively common in some of the headwater streams in the Wabash and Ohio river drainages. Endangered in Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. Extirpated from Illinois. See Staton et al. (2000) for trend information. In Illinois, it formerly occupied the Vermilion, Wabash, and Ohio Rivers but is now extirpated in the state (Cummings and Mayer, 1997).

Long-term Trend: Decline of >90%
Long-term Trend Comments: In Alabama, the nominal species occurred historically in the Tennessee River across the northern part of the state being eliminated following impoundment fo the Tennessee River (most recent from Muscle Shoals in 1904) (Williams et al., 2008).

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Highly vulnerable
Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: Due to slow growth and relative immobility, establishment of sustainable, viable populations requires decades of immigration and recruitment, even where suitable habitat exists (Neves, 1993). Mussel recruitment is typically low and sporadic, with population stability and viability maintained by numerous slow-growing cohorts and occasional good year classes (Neves and Widlak, 1987).

Environmental Specificity: Very narrow. Specialist or community with key requirements scarce.
Environmental Specificity Comments: The decline in the overall range of this species suggests that it is not tolerant of poor water quality. Individuals are sensitive to pollution, siltation, habitat perturbation, inundation, and loss of glochidial hosts.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: Historical records exist from the Mahoning and Little Mahoning rivers in Ohio and Pennsylvania and may still harbor populations and should be investigated. Additional work needs to be done on the Tippecanoe River in Indiana, the Elk River in West Virginia, and the Green River in Kentucky where fresh-dead shells have been found in recent years (Watters, 1994). An inventory of existing museum records should be compiled to provide information on historical sites and potential new ones.

Distribution
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Global Range: (1000-5000 square km (about 400-2000 square miles)) This species group was once found throughout the Tennessee, Cumberland, Ohio, and St. Lawrence river drainages. The only extant member of this group is Epioblasma torulosa rangiana which was known historically from the Ohio River basin, western Lake Erie, and the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers, but is currently extant in only seven streams; the Green River in Kentucky, French and LeBoeuf Creeks and the Allegheny River in Pennsylvania, the Detroit River in Michigan (possibly extirpated- see below), and Big Darby Creek in Ohio (USFWS, 1993), and recently discovered in at least one additional river in Ontario (Metcalfe-Smith et al., 1998). Staton et al. (2000) lists historical and present distribution. Recently found in Conewanto Creek near Warren, Warren Co., Pennsylvania, where it was previously thought to be extirpated (Evans and Smith, 2005). In Illinois, it formerly occupied the Vermilion, Wabash, and Ohio Rivers but is now extirpated in the state (Cummings and Mayer, 1997). As for the other members of this group, Epioblasma torulosa torulosa was historically regarded as the mainstream or big river form in the Tennessee and Ohio River systems, and Epioblasma torulosa gubernaculum was regarded as the headwater form in the Tennessee River system (above Knoxville). This subspecies is likely extinct with the last population known from the upper Clinch River above the backwater impoundment of Norris Reservoir with the last live specimens collected in 1983 and 1984 in Scott Co., Virginia (USFWS, 1984). There are also numerous specimens of the Epioblasma torulosa group from archealogical sites along the Cumberland River around Nashville (A. Bogan, pers. comm., 1997). Nominal subspecies, Epioblasma torulosa torulosa, historically found across northern Alabama in the Tennessee River but not reported (except as dead weathered shells) since the river was impounded, and is likely extirpated (Mirarchi, 2004). Recently this species has been confirmed to be likely extirpated from the main channel of the Detroit River between Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie, Michigan/Ontario; due to zebra mussel invasion (Schloesser et al., 2006).

Epioblasma torulosa torulosa:
This big river form of Epioblasma torulosa was historically found throughout the Tennessee River system (including the Elk, Nolichucky and Duck Rivers); was probably rare in the Cumberland River; also reported from the Ohio, Kentucky, Scioto (Ohio) and Kanawha (West Virginia) Rivers; and likely widespread in the larger rivers of the eastern United States and southern Ontario, Canada (USFWS, 1985).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States ALextirpated, ILextirpated, IN, KY, MI, NY, OH, PA, TN, VAextirpated, WV
Canada ON

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
AL Colbert (01033)*, Lauderdale (01077)*, Limestone (01083)*, Madison (01089)*, Marshall (01095)*, Morgan (01103)*
IL Champaign (17019), Vermilion (17183)
IN Allen (18003)*, Bartholomew (18005)*, Carroll (18015)*, Cass (18017)*, Daviess (18027)*, De Kalb (18033), Delaware (18035), Dubois (18037)*, Fountain (18045)*, Fulton (18049), Gibson (18051)*, Grant (18053), Greene (18055)*, Hamilton (18057)*, Howard (18067)*, Huntington (18069)*, Jackson (18071)*, Johnson (18081), Knox (18083)*, Kosciusko (18085), Lawrence (18093)*, Madison (18095)*, Marion (18097)*, Marshall (18099), Martin (18101), Miami (18103), Monroe (18105)*, Morgan (18109), Owen (18119)*, Parke (18121)*, Pike (18125)*, Posey (18129)*, Pulaski (18131), Putnam (18133)*, Randolph (18135), Shelby (18145), Sullivan (18153)*, Tippecanoe (18157), Vermillion (18165)*, Vigo (18167)*, Wabash (18169), Warren (18171)*, Washington (18175)*, Wells (18179)*, White (18181)
KY Bath (21011)*, Boone (21015)*, Campbell (21037)*, Edmonson (21061), Franklin (21073)*, Grayson (21085)*, Green (21087)*, Hardin (21093)*, Hart (21099), Kenton (21117)*, Larue (21123)*, Mercer (21167)*, Nelson (21179)*, Pendleton (21191)*, Rowan (21205)*, Spencer (21215)*, Taylor (21217)*, Warren (21227), Woodford (21239)*
MI Bay (26017)*, Lenawee (26091)*, Monroe (26115)*, Oakland (26125)*, Sanilac (26151), Wayne (26163)
OH Defiance (39039)*, Franklin (39049), Knox (39083)*, Madison (39097), Ottawa (39123)*, Pickaway (39129), Williams (39171), Wyandot (39175)*
PA Armstrong (42005), Clarion (42031), Crawford (42039), Erie (42049), Forest (42053), Lawrence (42073)*, Mercer (42085), Venango (42121), Warren (42123)
VA Scott (51169)*
WV Fayette (54019)*, Kanawha (54039)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
04 Saginaw (04080206)+*, Lake Huron (04080300), St. Clair (04090001)+, Lake St. Clair (04090002)+, Clinton (04090003)+*, Detroit (04090004)+, Huron (04090005)+*, Raisin (04100002)+*, St. Joseph (04100003)+, Upper Maumee (04100005)+*, Tiffin (04100006)+*, Auglaize (04100007)*, Cedar-Portage (04100010)+*, Sandusky (04100011)+, Lake Erie (04120200)*
05 Upper Allegheny (05010001)+, Conewango (05010002)+, Middle Allegheny-Tionesta (05010003)+, French (05010004)+, Middle Allegheny-Redbank (05010006)+, West Fork (05020002)*, Shenango (05030102)+*, Mahoning (05030103)*, Upper Ohio-Shade (05030202)*, Tuscarawas (05040001)*, Walhonding (05040003)+*, Muskingum (05040004)*, Upper Kanawha (05050006)+*, Elk (05050007)+, Upper Scioto (05060001)+, Lower Scioto (05060002)+*, Ohio Brush-Whiteoak (05090201)+*, Middle Ohio-Laughery (05090203)+*, Licking (05100101)+*, Lower Kentucky (05100205)+*, Upper Green (05110001)+, Barren (05110002)+, Upper Wabash (05120101)+*, Salamonie (05120102)+*, Mississinewa (05120103)+, Eel (05120104)+, Middle Wabash-Deer (05120105)+, Tippecanoe (05120106)+, Wildcat (05120107)+, Middle Wabash-Little Vermilion (05120108)+*, Vermilion (05120109)+, Sugar (05120110)+*, Middle Wabash-Busseron (05120111)+, Lower Wabash (05120113)+*, Upper White (05120201)+, Lower White (05120202)+*, Eel (05120203)+*, Driftwood (05120204)+, Flatrock-Haw (05120205)+*, Upper East Fork White (05120206)+*, Lower East Fork White (05120208)+, Upper Cumberland-Cordell Hull (05130106)*, Lower Cumberland-Old Hickory Lake (05130201)*, Lower Cumberland-Sycamore (05130202)*, Lower Cumberland (05130205)*, Red (05130206)*, Silver-Little Kentucky (05140101)*, Salt (05140102)+*, Rolling Fork (05140103)+*, Lower Ohio-Bay (05140203)*, Lower Ohio (05140206)*
06 North Fork Holston (06010101)+*, Holston (06010104)*, Nolichucky (06010108)*, Watts Bar Lake (06010201)*, Upper Clinch (06010205)+*, Powell (06010206)*, Lower Clinch (06010207)*, Middle Tennessee-Chickamauga (06020001)*, Guntersville Lake (06030001)*, Wheeler Lake (06030002)+*, Upper Elk (06030003)*, Pickwick Lake (06030005)+*, Lower Tennessee-Beech (06040001)*, Upper Duck (06040002)*, Kentucky Lake (06040005)*
07 Cache (07140108)*
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed (based on multiple information sources) Help
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A freshwater mussel.
General Description: SHELL: To 90 mm, markedly sexual dimorphic; males subtriangular with a sinuate postero-ventral margin; females expanded posteriorly. The umbos just posterior to the anterior margin. In TORULOSA the anterior is swollen in the region of the umbos and the whole shell is more inflated than in GUBERNACULUM. The shell of both subspecies is sculptured with concentric undulating swellings between growth lines. A broad, arcuate, well-defined sulcus on the posterior slope of the shell is evident in both sexes and subspecies at all sizes rendering the ventral margin of the male distinctly sinuate. In TORULOSA this sulcus is bounded anteriorly, and to a lesser extent posteriorly, by a broad raised rib bearing knob-like swellings. In GUBERNACULUM these ribs are much less pronounced and lack the knob-like projections. Males have the posterior portion of the shell drawn out into an acute point. Females have the posterior portion greatly expanded, forming a fragile "brood pouch" region. Shell of both sexes thickened anteriorly, thin (and often broken) posteriorly. Two pseudocardinals and pseudolaterals each in left valve, three pseudocardinals and one pseudolateral in right. Umbonal cavity shallow and small. Anterior adductors and retractor muscle scars deeply set in shell, posterior scars less so. Beak sculpture weak, corrugated, occupying a small area of the umbos. Periostracum yellowish-to greenish brown, fine dark green rays over the shell. In GUBERNACULUM the shell, particularly the "brood pouch" region may be dark green or greenish-blue. Nacre white or flushed with salmon.

ANIMAL: No specific information is available. The following is the description of Ortmann (1912, p 354) for the genus in general (as TRUNCILLA): "Inner laminae of inner gills entirely connected with abdominal sac. In the female, the inner edge of the mantle in front of the branchial is not parallel to the outer edge, but is more or less remote from it, often quite distant, and it has finer or coarser papillae. Toward the middle of the lower margin, the two edges again approach each other, and are normal farther forward. The mantle between the two edges is peculiarly spongy. Thus, an inner compartment is formed in front of the branchial opening. In the male, the two edges of the mantle do not have this structure, or is only merely indicated. Brood pouch swollen, kidney-shaped, formed by many ovisacs, occupying the posterior section of the outer gill. Edge of brood pouch blunt, beaded, but not pigmented."

Both subspecies have been illustrated by Johnson (1978) and Bogan and Parmalee (1983), GUBERNACULUM by Stansbery (1971), and TORULOSA by Burch (1975).

Reproduction Comments: Nothing is known specifically for either subspecies and the majority of the following information is taken from other species of Epioblasma of similar distributions.

Ortmann (1912: 354) reported that the closely related Epioblasma torulosa rangiana was gravid in September. The female uses the posterior portion of the outer gill as a brood pouch.

The fish host is unknown. Hill (1986) has demonstrated that several species of darters, the Log perch, and the Banded sculpin may be hosts for related species of Epiblasma.

Based upon counts of annular growth lines, both subspecies may reach 15+ years of age. It is not known at what ages reproductive maturity begins and ends. Because of the rarity of live material, it is not known if existing populations are reproductively active. Because of their small size, it is not known if juveniles are present in any of the populations. It must be emphasized that existing populations may be large, healthy, and reproductively active and still be in imminent danger of extinction if the host fish is not present in the range.

Epiblasma torulosa gubernaculum:
The glochidial host is not known.

Epioblasma torulosa rangiana:
Watters (1996) reports the following fish as suitable glochidial hosts: the mottled sculpin (Cottus bairdi), banded darter (Etheostoma zonale), bluebreast darter (Etheostoma camurum), and brown trout (Salmo trutta).

Etheostoma torulosa torulosa:
The glochidial host is not known.

Ecology Comments: Refer to the General Freshwater Mussel ESA.
Habitat Type: Freshwater
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Riverine Habitat(s): BIG RIVER, High gradient, MEDIUM RIVER, Riffle
Special Habitat Factors: Benthic
Habitat Comments: Although this species has been collected from water to about six feet, there is little doubt that it is primarily a riffle species of sand/gravel (Ortmann, 1919; Parmalee, 1967; Johnson, 1978; Bogan and Parmalee, 1983). Like most members of the genus, it appears to require swiftly moving water, perhaps linked to high oxygen concentrations, in order to survive. Epioblasma torulosa torulosa, in particular, is a species of riffle areas of larger streams and rivers which have been all but eliminated by impoundment and dredging for barge canals (Stansbery, 1970; 1971). Of the eleven or so species of naiads thought to be extinct in 1971 by Stansbery, most were from this type of habitat and all were species of Epioblasma.
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: Refer to the General Freshwater Mussel ESA.
Restoration Potential: Most of the large stream riffle areas have been eliminated by impoundment and dredging, and realistically cannot be recovered. For this reason it is probably not possible to conserve E. T. TORULOSA, which may already be extinct. If it still exists in the Duck River, a population could be moved to an alternate site before impoundment. EPIOBLASMA T. GUBERNACULUM occurs in the Clinch River and should be closely monitored.
Preserve Selection & Design Considerations: Refer to the General Freshwater Mussel ESA.
Management Requirements: Refer to the General Freshwater Mussel ESA.
Monitoring Requirements: At present these naiades are in danger of imminent extinction. Populations must be promptly located and, if necessary, relocated.

Refer to the General Freshwater Mussel ESA.

Biological Research Needs: In order to effectively manage mussel species it is necessary to work out certain life history characteristics first. Because of their unusual life-cycle and dependence on fish for completion of that cycle, it is imperative that the host species for the northern riffleshell be ascertained. Work needs to be done to identify age and size at sexual maturity, recruitment success, age class structure, and other important life history parameters.

Research is needed to assess the success of watershed protection on mussel populations. Abundance and distribution of selected species needs to be monitored in order to ascertain how species abundanceOs change over time. From that we can assess what land-use changes, conservation practices, and physical/chemical parameters are correlated with, and possibly responsible for, the biological changes.

Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Freshwater Mussels

Use Class: Not applicable
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Occurrences are based on some evidence of historical or current presence of single or multiple specimens, including live specimens or recently dead shells (i.e., soft tissue still attached and/or nacre still glossy and iridescent without signs of external weathering or staining), at a given location with potentially recurring existence. Weathered shells constitute a historic occurrence. Evidence is derived from reliable published observation or collection data; unpublished, though documented (i.e. government or agency reports, web sites, etc.) observation or collection data; or museum specimen information.
Mapping Guidance: Based on the separation distances outlined herein, for freshwater mussels in STANDING WATER (or backwater areas of flowing water such as oxbows and sloughs), all standing water bodies with either (1) greater than 2 km linear distance of unsuitable habitat between (i.e. lotic connections), or (2) more than 10 km of apparently unoccupied though suitable habitat (including lentic shoreline, linear distance across water bodies, and lentic water bodies with proper lotic connections), are considered separate element occurrences. Only the largest standing water bodies (with 20 km linear shoreline or greater) may have greater than one element occurrence within each. Multiple collection or observation locations in one lake, for example, would only constitute multiple occurrences in the largest lakes, and only then if there was some likelihood that unsurveyed areas between collections did not contain the element.

For freshwater mussels in FLOWING WATER conditions, occurrences are separated by a distance of more than 2 stream km of unsuitable habitat, or a distance of more than 10 stream km of apparently unoccupied though suitable habitat. Standing water between occurrences is considered suitable habitat when calculating separation distance for flowing water mussel species unless dispersal barriers (see Separation Barriers) are in place.

Several mussel species in North America occur in both standing and flowing water (see Specs Notes). Calculation of separation distance and determination of separation barriers for these taxa should take into account the environment in which the element was collected. Juvenile mussels do not follow this pattern and juveniles are typically missed by most standard sampling methods (Hastie and Cosgrove, 2002; Neves and Widlak, 1987), therefore juvenile movement is not considered when calculating separation distance.

Separation Barriers: Separation barriers within standing water bodies are based solely on separation distance (see Separation Distance-suitable, below). Separation barriers between standing water bodies and within flowing water systems include lack of lotic connections, natural barriers such as upland habitat, absence of appropriate species specific fish hosts, water depth greater than 10 meters (Cvancara, 1972; Moyle and Bacon, 1969) or anthropogenic barriers to water flow such as dams or other impoundments and high waterfalls.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 2 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 10 km
Alternate Separation Procedure: None
Separation Justification: Adult freshwater mussels are largely sedentary spending their entire lives very near to the place where they first successfully settled (Coker et al., 1921; Watters, 1992). Strayer (1999) demonstrated in field trials that mussels in streams occur chiefly in flow refuges, or relatively stable areas that displayed little movement of particles during flood events. Flow refuges conceivably allow relatively immobile mussels to remain in the same general location throughout their entire lives. Movement occurs with the impetus of some stimulus (nearby water disturbance, physical removal from the water such as during collection, exposure conditions during low water, seasonal temperature change or associated diurnal cycles) and during spawning. Movement is confined to either vertical movement burrowing deeper into sediments though rarely completely beneath the surface, or horizontal movement in a distinct path often away from the area of stimulus. Vertical movement is generally seasonal with rapid descent into the sediment in autumn and gradual reappearance at the surface during spring (Amyot and Downing, 1991; 1997). Horizontal movement is generally on the order of a few meters at most and is associated with day length and during times of spawning (Amyot and Downing, 1997). Such locomotion plays little, if any, part in the distribution of freshwater mussels as these limited movements are not dispersal mechanisms. Dispersal patterns are largely speculative but have been attributed to stream size and surface geology (Strayer, 1983; Strayer and Ralley, 1993; van der Schalie, 1938), utilization of flow refuges during flood stages (Strayer, 1999), and patterns of host fish distribution during spawning periods (Haag and Warren, 1998; Watters, 1992). Lee and DeAngelis (1997) modeled the dispersal of freshwater into unoccupied habitats as a traveling wave front with a velocity ranging from 0.87 to 2.47 km/year (depending on mussel life span) with increase in glochidial attachment rate to fish having no effect on wave velocity.

Nearly all mussels require a host or hosts during the parasitic larval portion of their life cycle. Hosts are usually fish, but a few exceptional species utilize amphibians as hosts (Van Snik Gray et al., 2002; Howard, 1915) or may metamorphose without a host (Allen, 1924; Barfield et al., 1998; Lefevre and Curtis, 1911; 1912). Haag and Warren (1998) found that densities of host generalist mussels (using a variety of hosts from many different families) and displaying host specialists (using a small number of hosts usually in the same family but mussel females have behavioral modifications to attract hosts to the gravid female) were independent of the densities of their hosts. Densities of non-displaying host specialist mussels (using a small number of hosts usually in the same family but without host-attracting behavior) were correlated positively with densities of their hosts. Upstream dispersal of host fish for non-displaying host specialist mussels could, theoretically, transport mussel larvae (glochidia) over long distances through unsuitable habitat, but it is unlikely that this occurs very often. D. Strayer (personal communication) suggested a distance of at least 10 km, but a greater distance between occurrences may be necessary to constitute genetic separation of populations. As such, separation distance is based on a set, though arbitrary, distance between two known points of occurrence.

Date: 18Oct2004
Author: Cordeiro, J.
Notes: Contact Jay Cordeiro (jay_cordeiro@natureserve.org) for a complete list of freshwater mussel taxa sorted by flow regime.
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 23Dec2011
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Cordeiro, J. (2011); Morrison, M. (1998)
Management Information Edition Date: 01Aug1986
Management Information Edition Author: Watters, G. Thomas
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 23Dec2011
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Cordeiro, J. (2011); WATTERS, T. G. (1986)

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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References for Watershed Distribution Map
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