Elliptio fisheriana - (I. Lea, 1838)
Northern Lance
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Elliptio fisheriana (I. Lea, 1838) (TSN 79978)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.114749
Element Code: IMBIV14120
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Invertebrates - Mollusks - Freshwater Mussels
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Mollusca Bivalvia Unionoida Unionidae Elliptio
Genus Size: D - Medium to large genus (21+ species)
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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: Elliptio fisheriana
Taxonomic Comments: The classification of the Atlantic Slope species of Elliptio is currently in a state of confusion. Johnson (1970) lumped many named taxa under a single name. Current research is finding many of these synonomized taxa to be valid species. This research is in progress and will result in the recognition of numerous additional taxa in this genus. Johnson (1970) listed this species as a synonym of Elliptio lanceolata but both were included as distinct species in Turgeon et al. (1998).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G4
Global Status Last Reviewed: 30Oct2007
Global Status Last Changed: 25Nov1996
Rounded Global Status: G4 - Apparently Secure
Reasons: This species occurs in the Nanticoke, Chester, and Potomac to Pamlico River systems. The northern lance was not previously reported as part of South Carolina's fauna, but specimens resembling this species have recently been found in parts of the Pee Dee drainage in South Carolina and in Lake Marion in the Santee drainage. The identity of these specimens is not certain, as they resemble both E. fisheriana and E. nasutilus. Johnson (1970) lumped this species under the Elliptio lanceolata complex including Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina occurrence records (Potomac, Occoquan, Rappahannock, York, James, Chowan, Roanoke, Pamlico, Neuse, Cape Fear, Waccamaw) but it is difficult to distinguish how to separate them out into the various E. lanceolata forms. Conservation status is difficult to determine as taxonomy has not been resolved.
Nation: United States
National Status: N4 (16Jul1998)

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 Delaware (S2), Maryland (S3), North Carolina (S3), Pennsylvania (S1), South Carolina (SNR), Virginia (S4), West Virginia (S2)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern
American Fisheries Society Status: Special Concern (01Jan1993)

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 1000-5000 square km (about 400-2000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: This species occurs in the Nanticoke, Chester, and Potomac to Pamlico River systems. The northern lance was not previously reported as part of South Carolina's fauna, but specimens resembling this species have recently been found in parts of the Pee Dee drainage in South Carolina and in Lake Marion in the Santee drainage. The identity of these specimens is not certain, as they resemble both E. fisheriana and E. nasutilus (possible synonyms (SC NHP, pers. comm., 2006). In Virginia it occurs in the Southern Appalachian Piedmont to the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain region (VA NHP, pers. comm., 2007). Johnson (1970) lumped this species under the Elliptio lanceolata complex including Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina occurrence records (Potomac, Occoquan, Rappahannock, York, James, Chowan, Roanoke, Pamlico, Neuse, Cape Fear, Waccamaw) but it is difficult to distinguish how to separate them out into the various E. lanceolata forms.

Number of Occurrences: Unknown
Number of Occurrences Comments: In the Delmarva peninsula, this species was found in the Chester River system (Unicorn Community Lake) in Queen Anne's Co., Maryland; Choptank River system (Norwich Creek) in Queen Anne's Co., Maryland; Nanticoke River system (Trap Pond, Chipman Pond, Meadow Branch Nanticoke River, Barren Pond, Fleetwood Pond, Record Pond, Galestown Pond, Craigs Pond, Williams Pond) in Sussex Co., Delaware and Wicomico and Dorchester Cos., Maryland (Counts et al., 1991); recently in Williams Pond (Nanticoke system) in Sussex Co., Delaware (Blaine, 2010). In Maryland, it is known from the Upper Potomac, Chester, Choptank, and Naticoke River drainages (Bogan and Proch, 1995); also historical in Lower Susquehanna (Ashton, 2009). It occurs in Patterson Creek (North Branch Potomac drainage), West Virginia (Clayton et al., 2001; Taylor, 1985; Taylor and Horn, 1983). This species was recently collected in the Opequon River (Potomac watershed) in West Virginia (Vila et al., 2003). In Virginia, it occurs in the James River basin in Rockbridge (Burch, 2002). The northern lance was not previously reported as part of South Carolina's fauna, but specimens resembling this species have recently been found in parts of the Pee Dee drainage in South Carolina and in Lake Marion in the Santee drainage. The identity of these specimens is not certain, as they resemble both E. fisheriana and E. nasutilus (possible synonyms (SC NHP, pers. comm., 2006). Alderman (2006) found it in Lake Murray in South Carolina and the Chowan River in North Carolina (Alderman and Alderman, 2009). In Virginia it occurs in the Southern Appalachian Piedmont to the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain region (VA NHP, pers. comm., 2007).

Population Size: Unknown

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Unknown

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)

Long-term Trend: Decline of <50% to Relatively Stable
Long-term Trend Comments: This species has been extirpated from Pennsylvania (Ortmann, 1919).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: More inventory needed in northern parts of range.

Distribution
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Global Range: (1000-5000 square km (about 400-2000 square miles)) This species occurs in the Nanticoke, Chester, and Potomac to Pamlico River systems. The northern lance was not previously reported as part of South Carolina's fauna, but specimens resembling this species have recently been found in parts of the Pee Dee drainage in South Carolina and in Lake Marion in the Santee drainage. The identity of these specimens is not certain, as they resemble both E. fisheriana and E. nasutilus (possible synonyms (SC NHP, pers. comm., 2006). In Virginia it occurs in the Southern Appalachian Piedmont to the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain region (VA NHP, pers. comm., 2007). Johnson (1970) lumped this species under the Elliptio lanceolata complex including Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina occurrence records (Potomac, Occoquan, Rappahannock, York, James, Chowan, Roanoke, Pamlico, Neuse, Cape Fear, Waccamaw) but it is difficult to distinguish how to separate them out into the various E. lanceolata forms.

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: endemic to a single nation

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States DE, MD, NC, PA, SC, VA, WV

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
DE Kent (10001), Sussex (10005)
NC Columbus (37047), Edgecombe (37065), Franklin (37069), Gates (37073), Granville (37077), Halifax (37083), Harnett (37085), Hertford (37091), Johnston (37101), Martin (37117), Nash (37127), Northampton (37131), Pitt (37147), Stokes (37169), Wake (37183), Warren (37185), Wayne (37191), Wilson (37195)
WV Hampshire (54027), Morgan (54065)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
02 Chincoteague (02040303)+, Choptank (02060005)+, Cacapon-Town (02070003)+, Western Lower Delmarva (02080109)+
03 Upper Dan (03010103)+, Lower Roanoke (03010107)+, Ghowan (03010203)+, Meheriin (03010204)+, Upper Tar (03020101)+, Fishing (03020102)+, Lower Tar (03020103)+, Upper Neuse (03020201)+, Contentnea (03020203)+, Upper Cape Fear (03030004)+, Waccamaw (03040206)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Reproduction Comments: Laboratory studies by O'Dee and Watters (2000) identified the Johnny darter, largemouth bass, bluegill and white shiner as potential fish hosts. Ashton (2008) examined presence and absence of various fish species in Maryland along with Elliptio fisheriana and concluded an undocumented host fish in Maryland almost certainly exists.
Habitat Type: Freshwater
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Riverine Habitat(s): CREEK, Low gradient, MEDIUM RIVER
Habitat Comments: The northern lance seems to be found primarily in soft sediments in shallow water less than two feet from stream and river banks that are highly stable with an intact riparian zone (T. Savidge, pers. comm., 2005).
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Biological Research Needs: Taxonomy is in flux.
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: 27Sep2007
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Cordeiro, J.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 27Sep2007
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Cordeiro, J.

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

References
Help
  • Alderman, J.M. and J.D. Alderman. 2009. Chowan River freshwater mussel survey. Report prepared for Citizens Against OLF by Alderman Environmental Services, Pittsboro, North Carolina. 56 pp.

  • Ashton, M. 2008. What came first, the mussel or the host? Co-occurrence of stream fishes with Elliptio fisheriana in Maryland. Ellipsaria, 10(3): 13-14.

  • Becker, A.J., R. Gauza, and J.A. Smith. 2006. A summary of Freshwater Mussel data collected by the Maryland Biological Stream Survey 1995-2006. MD DNR-MBSS, Annapolis. 28 pp.

  • Bogan, A.E. and T. Proch. 1995. Manual of the freshwater bivalves of Maryland. Prepared for a workshop held at Versar, Inc., Columbia, Maryland, 9 March 1995. 68 pp.

  • Burch, P.R. 2002. Mollusks. [Reprinted- a preliminary list of the land and freshwater mollusks of the James River Basin, Virginia]. Walkerana, 13(29/30): 113-122.

  • COUNTS, C.L. III, T.S. HANDWERKER, AND R.V. JESIEN. 1991. THE NAIADES (BIVALVIA:UNIONOIDEA) OF THE DELMARVA PENINSULA. AMERICAN MALACOLOGICAL BULLETIN 9(1):27-37.

  • COUNTS, C.L., III AND C.K. WEITZMAN. 1992. THE DWARF WEDGE MUSSEL (ALASMIDONTA HETERODON) IN LONG MARSH DITCH, MASON BRANCH, AND NORWICH CREEK, MARYLAND. 29PP. SUBMITTED TO THE MD NATURAL HERITAGE PROGRAM, DNR; OCTOBER 1992.

  • Clayton, J.L., C.W. Stihler, and J.L. Wallace. 2001. Status of and potential impacts to the freshwater bivalves (Unionidae) in Patterson Creek, West Virginia. Northeastern Naturalist 8(2):179-188.

  • Counts, C.L., III, T.S. Handwerker, and R.V. Jesien. 1991. The naiades (Bivalvia: Unionidea) of the Delmarva Peninsula. American Malacological Bulletin, 9(1): 27-37.

  • Howard, A.D. 1915. Some exceptional cases of breeding among the Unionidae. The Nautilus 29:4-11.

  • Lefevre, G. and W.T. Curtis. 1912. Studies on the reproduction and artificial propogation of fresh-water mussels. Bulletin of the Bureau of Fisheries 30:102-201.

  • Moyle, P. and J. Bacon. 1969. Distribution and abundance of molluscs in a fresh water environment. Journal of the Minnesota Academy of Science 35(2/3):82-85.

  • Ortmann, A.E. 1919. Monograph of the naiades of Pennsylvania. Part III. Systematic account of the genera and species. Memoirs of the Carnegie Museum 8(1):1-385.

  • Spoo, A. 2008. The Pearly Mussels of Pennsylvania. Coachwhip Publications: Landisville, Pennsylvania. 210 pp.

  • Strayer, D. 1983. The effects of surface geology and stream size on freshwater mussel (Bivalvia, Unionidae) distribution in southeastern Michigan, U.S.A. Freshwater Biology 13:253-264.

  • Strayer, D.L. 1999a. Use of flow refuges by unionid mussels in rivers. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 18(4):468-476.

  • Strayer, D.L. and J. Ralley. 1993. Microhabitat use by an assemblage of stream-dwelling unionaceans (Bivalvia) including two rare species of Alasmidonta. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 12(3):247-258.

  • Taylor, R.W. and K.J. Horn. 1983. A list of freshwater mussels suggested for designation as rare, endangereed or threatened in West Virginia. Proceedings of the West Virginia Academy of Science (Biology Section) 54:31-34.

  • 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.

  • Van der Schalie, H. 1938a. The naiad fauna of the Huron River in southeastern Michigan. Miscellaneous Publication of the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan 40:7-78.

  • Vila, P., R. Villella, and L. Bailey. 2003. Distribution and diversity of native freshwater mussels in the Sleepy and Opequon Creek watersheds in the eastern panhandle, West Virginia. Abstract of the North American Benthological Society Annual Meeting, Athens, Georgia.

  • Watters, G.T. 1992a. Unionids, fishes, and the species-area curve. Journal of Biogeography 19:481-490.

  • Whelan, N. 2010. Preliminary results of life history strategies of the freshwater snail genus Leptoxis (Cerithioidea: Pleuroceridae) from the southeastern United States. American Malacological Society Newsletter 41(2):1-4.

  • Williams, J. D., A. E. Bogan, R. S. Butler, K. S. Cummings, J. T. Garner, J. L. Harris, N. A. Johnson, and G. T. Watters. 2017. A revised list of the freshwater mussels (Mollusca: Bivalvia: Unionida) of the United States and Canada. Freshwater Mollusk Biology and Conservation 20:33-58.

  • Williams, J.D., M.L. Warren, Jr., K.S. Cummings, J.L. Harris, and R.J. Neves. 1993b. Conservation status of freshwater mussels of the United States and Canada. Fisheries 18(9): 6-22.

References for Watershed Distribution Map
  • Alderman, J. 2006. Reconnaissance survey of the freshwater mussel fauna of the Lower Saluda and Congaree Rivers, Lake Murray, and selected tributaries. Report prepared for Kleinschmidt Associates, West Columbia, South Carolina, 31 October 2006. 166 pp.

  • Ashton, M. 2009. Recent mussel surveys in the Susquehanna River, below Conowingo Dam, Maryland. Ellipsaria 11(3):12.

  • Johnson, R.I. 1970a. The systematics and zoogeography of the Unionidae (Mollusca: Bivalvia) of the southern Atlantic slope region. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University 140(6):263-449.

  • Taylor, R.W. 1985. Comments on the distribution of freshwater mussels (Unionacea) of the Potomac River headwaters in West Virginia. The Nautilus 99(2-3):84-87.

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