Epioblasma metastriata - (Conrad, 1838)
Upland Combshell
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Epioblasma metastriata (Conrad, 1838) (TSN 80321)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.117693
Element Code: IMBIV16100
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 metastriata
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: GH
Global Status Last Reviewed: 28Apr2009
Global Status Last Changed: 04Jun1998
Rounded Global Status: GH - Possibly Extinct
Reasons: The last collection was made in 1988 (single specimen) from a portion of the Conasauga River around the Georgia/Tennessee border. Surveys since that time have been unable to relocate the species, but potentially suitable habitat is still available in the upper Coosa River drainage, however it is likely that this species is extinct.
Nation: United States
National Status: NH (04Jun1998)

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), Georgia (SX), Tennessee (SH)

Other Statuses

U.S. Endangered Species Act (USESA): LE: Listed endangered (17Mar1993)
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Lead Region: R4 - Southeast
IUCN Red List Category: CR - Critically endangered
American Fisheries Society Status: Endangered (01Jan1993)

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: <100 square km (less than about 40 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Historically, this species was known from the Black Warrior and Cahaba River drainages in Alabama, and the Coosa River drainage in Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee. It was last collected in the Coosa River drainage in 1988. The last collection in the Cahaba River drainage was in 1973, and the most recent collection in the Black Warrior River drainage was in the early 1900's. Hurd (1974) cited one record in Tennessee in the Conasauga River but did not actually collect the species during surveys (USFWS, 1993; 1997; 2004; Mirarchi et al., 2004). In the Coosa River basin in Georgia, it is known historically from the Coosa, Etowah, and Oostanaula River drainages but has not been collected live recently (Williams and Hughes, 2001).

Area of Occupancy: 1-5 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments:  

Number of Occurrences: 0 - 5
Number of Occurrences Comments: If it is still extant, there are likely no viable occurrences. Most recent records are from Conasauga River, Georgia, in 1988 (a single specimen), and the Cahaba River, Alabama, in the early 1970s. Repeated surveys have failed to locate this species (USFWS, 2000; 2004).

Population Size: 1 - 50 individuals

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: None (zero)
Viability/Integrity Comments: No recent localities are known (USFWS, 2003).

Overall Threat Impact: Very high - high
Overall Threat Impact Comments: This species is threatened by habitat modification, sedimentation, and other forms of water quality degradation. Potential habitat is locally impacted by carpet mill and other industrial discharge, sewage treatment plant discharge, urban and agricultural runoff, and surface mine drainage (USFWS, 1997). Disappearance from significant portions of its range are primarily due to changes in river and stream channels due to dams, dredging, or mining, and historic or episodic pollution events. The species is not known to survive in impounded waters and more than 1700 km of large and small river habitat in the Basin have been impounded by dams for navigation, flood control, water supply, and/or hydroelectric production purposes (USFWS, 2004).

From USFWS (2000):
In the Mobile River basin, the greatest threats are dams (for navigation, water supply, electricity, recreation, and flood control), channelization (causing accelerated erosion, altered depth; and loss of habitat diversity, substrate stability, and riparian canopy), dredging (for navigation or gravel mining), mining (for coal, sand, gravel, or gold) in locally concentrated areas, pollution- point source (industrial waste effluent, sewage treatment plants, carpet and fabric mills, paper mills and refineries in mainstem rivers), pollution- nonpoint source (construction, agriculture, silviculture, urbanization).

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: A 1973 survey of the Cahaba River found a greatly reduced population compared to a survey conducted in 1938 (USFWS, 1993). All other known historical sites surveyed have yielded no recent living specimens.

Long-term Trend: Decline of >90%
Long-term Trend Comments: A 1973 survey of the Cahaba River found a greatly reduced population compared to a survey conducted in 1938 (USFWS, 1993). All other known historical sites surveyed have yielded no recent living specimens. In Alabama, it is known historically from the Black Warrior, Cahaba, and Coosa River drainages primarily above the Fall Line and a few records from steep gradient reaches of those rivers a short distance downstream of the Fall Line but has not been collected since 1973 (Williams et al., 2008).

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Highly vulnerable
Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: If it is still extant, there are likely no viable occurrences (USFWS, 2004), therefore, the species is vulnerable to random loss of genetic viability and reproductive isolation. Isolated imperiled populations in the Mobile River basin are likely vulnerable to random accidents, such as toxic spills, and to naturally catastrophic events, such as droughts and floods, even if land use and human populations were to remain constant within isolated watersheds (USFWS, 2000).

Environmental Specificity: Moderate. Generalist or community with some key requirements scarce.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: Surveys in former localities are widespread and no new specimens uncovered. Search in undocumented localites within historic range.

Protection Needs: Critical habitat being proposed in 8 units across distribution in Mobile Basin (USFWS, 2004). Mobile River Basin recovery plan (USFWS, 2000) calls for: (1) use to fullest extent existing laws, regulations, and policies to portect listed populations and their habitats, and to develop and encourage a stream management strategy that places high priority on conservation; (2) encourage voluntary stewardship through joint initiatives and individual actions as the only practical and economical means of minimizing adverse effects of private land use and activities within watersheds; (3) continue to promote research efforts on life histories, sensitivities, and requirements of imperiled aquatic species, and develop technological capabilities to maintain and propagate them.

Distribution
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Global Range: (<100 square km (less than about 40 square miles)) Historically, this species was known from the Black Warrior and Cahaba River drainages in Alabama, and the Coosa River drainage in Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee. It was last collected in the Coosa River drainage in 1988. The last collection in the Cahaba River drainage was in 1973, and the most recent collection in the Black Warrior River drainage was in the early 1900's. Hurd (1974) cited one record in Tennessee in the Conasauga River but did not actually collect the species during surveys (USFWS, 1993; 1997; 2004; Mirarchi et al., 2004). In the Coosa River basin in Georgia, it is known historically from the Coosa, Etowah, and Oostanaula River drainages but has not been collected live recently (Williams and Hughes, 2001).

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 ALextirpated, GAextirpated, TN

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
AL Bibb (01007)*, Blount (01009)*, Cherokee (01019)*, Cullman (01043)*, Jefferson (01073)*, Shelby (01117)*
GA Chattooga (13055)*, Gordon (13129)*, Murray (13213)*, Whitfield (13313)*
TN Polk (47139)*
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
03 Conasauga (03150101)+*, Oostanaula (03150103)*, Etowah (03150104)*, Upper Coosa (03150105)+*, Middle Coosa (03150106)+*, Lower Coosa (03150107)*, Cahaba (03150202)+*, Mulberry (03160109)+*, Upper Black Warrior (03160112)*
+ 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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General Description: Shells are rhomboidal to quadrate in outline and are sexually dimorphic. Males are moderately inflated with a broadly curved posterior ridge. Females are considerably inflated, with a sharply elevated posterior ridge that swells broadly post-ventrally forming a well-developed sulcus (groove anterior to the posterior ridge). The posterior margin of the female is broadly rounded and comes to a point anterior to the posterior extreme. Periostracum color is yellowish-brown to tawny, and may or may not have broken green rays or small green spots. Hinge teeth are well-developed and heavy (FWS, 2003).
Reproduction Comments: This species likely releases glochidia during late spring or early summer. Host fish have not been identified (USFWS, 2003).
Habitat Type: Freshwater
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Riverine Habitat(s): CREEK, High gradient, MEDIUM RIVER, Moderate gradient, Riffle
Special Habitat Factors: Benthic
Habitat Comments: It has been located in shoals in rivers and large streams, above the fall line, on stable subrates in moderate to swift currents (USFWS, 1997; 2000). See Hurd (1974) for more information.
Length: 6 centimeters
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: This species was listed as federally endangered in the U.S. in 1993 and a recovery plan created (USFWS, 2000).

A specific recovery plan has been created for the Mobile River basin (USFWS, 2000) which contains the following objectives: (1) protect habitat integrity and quality of river and stream segments that currently support or could support imperiled aquatic species, (2) consider options for free-flowing river and stream mitigation strategies that give high priority to avoidance and restoration, (3) promote voluntary stewardship as a practical and economical means of reducing nonpoint pollution from private land use, (4) encourage and support community based watershed stewardship planning and action, (5) develop and implement programs and materials to educate the public on the need and benefits of ecosystem management, and to involve them in watershed stewardship, (6) conduct basic research on endemic aquatic species and apply the results toward management and protection of aquatic communities, (7) develop and implement technology for maintaining and propagating endemic species in captivity, (8) reintroduce aquatic species into restored habitats, as appropriate, (9) monitor listed species population levels and distribution and periodically review ecosystem management strategy, (10) coordinate ecosystem management actions (more detail in USFWS, 2000).

Critical habitat has been designated in Alabama in the Locust Fork, Cahaba River, Coosa River, Hatchet Creek, Kelly Creek, Big Canoe Creek, and the lower Coosa River; in Georgia in Oostanaula complex; and in Tennessee in Oostanaula complex (0 occuppied, 651 unoccuppied km) (USFWS, 2004).

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: 28Apr2009
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Cordeiro, J.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 24Jan2007
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
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  • Burch, J.B. 1975a. Freshwater unionacean clams (Mollusca: Pelecypoda) of North America. Malacological Publications: Hamburg, Michigan. 204 pp.

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

  • Hurd, J.C. 1974. Systematics and zoogeography of the Unionacean mollusks of the Coosa River drainage of Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee. University Microfilms International, Ann Arbor, Michigan. Auburn University. Ph.D. dissertation. 240 pp., 10 tables, 6 fig., + 63 maps.

  • 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.

  • McGregor, S.W., P.E. O'Neil, and J.M. Pierson. 2000. Status of the freshwater mussel (Bivalvia: Unionidae) fauna of the Cahaba River system, Alabama. Walkerana, 11(26): 215-237.

  • Mirarchi, R.E., J.T. Garner, M.F. Mettee, and P.E. O'Neil. 2004b. Alabama wildlife. Volume 2. Imperiled aquatic mollusks and fishes. University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa, Alabama. xii + 255 pp.

  • 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.

  • Parmalee, P.W. and A.E. Bogan. 1998. The Freshwater Mussels of Tennessee. University of Tennessee Press: Knoxville, Tennessee. 328 pp.

  • Parmalee, P.W. and A.E. Bogan. 1998. The freshwater mussels of Tennessee. University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville, Tennesee. 328 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.

  • 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.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 1993. Endangered status for eight freshwater mussels and threatened status for three freshwater mussels in the Mobil River drainage. Final rule. Federal Register, 58(60): 14330-14340.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 2000. Recovery plan for the Mobile River basin aquatic ecosystem. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Southeast Region, Atlanta, Georgia. 128 pp.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 2003. Endangered and Threatened Widlife and plants; proposed designation of critical habitat for three threatened mussels and eight endangered mussels in the Mobile River basin; proposed rule. Federal Register, 68(58): 14752-14832.

  • 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.

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

  • Wells, S.M., R.M. Pyle, and N.M. Collins. 1983. The IUCN Invertebrate Red Data Book. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland. 632 pp.

  • Williams, J. D., A. E. Bogan, and J. T Garner. 2008. Freshwater mussels of Alabama & the Mobile Basin in Georgia, Mississippi, & Tennessee. University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa, Alabama. 908 pages.

  • 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.

  • van der Schalie, H. 1938c. The niades (fresh-water mussels) of the Cahaba River in northern Alabama. University of Michigan Museum of Zoology Occasional Papers 392: 1-29.

  • van der Schalie, H. 1981. Mollusks in the Alabama River drainage: past and present. Sterkiana, 71: 24-40.

References for Watershed Distribution Map
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 2004. Endangered and Threatened Widlife and plants; designation of critical habitat for three threatened mussels and eight endangered mussels in the Mobile River basin; final rule. Federal Register, 69(126): 40083-40171.

  • Williams, J.D. and M.H. Hughes. 1998. Freshwater mussels of selected reaches of the main channel rivers in the Coosa drainage of Georgia. U.S. Geological report to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District, Alabama. 21 pp.

  • Williams, J.D., A.E. Bogan, and J.T. Garner. 2008. Freshwater Mussels of Alabama & the Mobile Basin in Georgia, Mississippi & Tennessee. University of Alabama Press: Tuscaloosa, Alabama. 908 pp.

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