Epioblasma triquetra - (Rafinesque, 1820)
Snuffbox
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Epioblasma triquetra (Rafinesque, 1820) (TSN 80345)
French Common Names: Úpioblasme tricorne
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.112023
Element Code: IMBIV16190
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 triquetra
Taxonomic Comments: This species has been placed in the monotypic subgenus Truncilliopsis by Ortmann and Walker (1922) and Johnson (1978). Synonyms include Unio triangularis Barnes, 1823, Unio cuneatus Swainson, 1823, and Unio formosus I. Lea, 1831. Historically, it was placed in the genera Dysnomia and Plagiola (Johnson, 1978).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G3
Global Status Last Reviewed: 28Apr2009
Global Status Last Changed: 17Mar1998
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: This species is declining throughout its widespread range and has become increasingly rare, although several dozen occurrences remain; many of them with good viability. Distribution is greatly fragmented but remains relatively wide. Long-term viability of most populations is questionable especially those in large rivers where zebra mussel populations are now established. Degree of decline has not been established.
Nation: United States
National Status: N3 (17Mar1998)
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 (S1), Arkansas (S1), Illinois (S1), Indiana (S1), Iowa (SX), Kansas (SX), Kentucky (S1), Michigan (S1S2), Minnesota (S1), Mississippi (S1), Missouri (S1), Nebraska (SNR), New York (SH), Ohio (S1), Pennsylvania (S2), Tennessee (S3), Virginia (S1), West Virginia (S2), Wisconsin (S1)
Canada Ontario (S1)

Other Statuses

U.S. Endangered Species Act (USESA): LE: Listed endangered (14Feb2012)
Canadian Species at Risk Act (SARA) Schedule 1/Annexe 1 Status: E (05Jun2003)
Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC): Endangered (25Nov2011)
Comments on COSEWIC: This small, freshwater mussel is currently found in two rivers in southern Ontario; another population may still survive in the Thames River where one fresh shell was found in 1998. The original COSEWIC assessment (2001) concluded that it had been lost from most of its Canadian range and was confined to the Sydenham River but live mussels from a reproducing population were subsequently found in the Ausable River beginning in 2006. The two remaining populations are in areas of intensive farming and subject to siltation and pollution with siltation being particularly problematic. Invasive Zebra Mussels have rendered much of the historical habitat unsuitable. An invasive fish species, the Round Goby, may pose a new threat by competing with the mussel's two known larval host fishes and by eating juvenile mussels.
Designated Endangered in May 2001. Status re-examined and confirmed in November 2011.

IUCN Red List Category: NE - Not evaluated
American Fisheries Society Status: Threatened (01Jan1993)

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: It was historically widespread in the upper Mississippi and Ohio River drainages. It was widespread but never abundant in the Tennessee River system. It has been drastically reduced in range and is endangered in many states where it occurs. Extant populations can still be found in Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and West Virginia. Most populations are small and geographically isolated from one another. In Mississippi, it is found only in Tennessee River drainage (Jones et al., 2005). In Arkansas, it is known from a handfull of sites represented by only single or a few specimens in each (Harris and Gordon, 1987; Harris et al., 1997). It was historically known from New York in the Niagara River, Lake, Erie, and the Buffalo River but is likely extirpated there (Strayer and Jirka, 1997) (although two spent shells were recently found in the Niagara River drainage- Marangelo and Strayer, 2000).

Number of Occurrences: 21 - 80
Number of Occurrences Comments: Less than 50 reproducing extant occurrences are known (R. J. Neves, Virginia Tech, pers. comm.). In Minnesota, it persists only in a short reach of the lower St. Croix River as one of the largest populations remaining in the midwest (Sietman, 2003). In Wisconsin it is limited to the Wolf and St. Croix drainages (WI NHP, pers. comm., 2007). In Missouri, it has been found in the Bourbeuse, Meramec, and St. Francis Rivers (Oesch, 1995). In Illinois, it persists in a small stretch of the Embarras River in the east-central part of the state (Cummings and Mayer, 1997). It was recently documented in the Fox River basin in Illinois by a single weathered valve on Nippersink Creek with no specimens on the Wisconsin side of the basin (Schanzle et al., 2004). In Tennessee, it is known from select areas throughout the Clinch, Powell, North and South Fork Holston, and lower Nolichucky Rivers; Little River and the Tennessee River downstream from Knoxville; the Elk (Isom et al., 1973) and Duck Rivers; the Cumberland and Obey Rivers (Parmalee and Bogan, 1998). Hubbs (2002) found dead shells (some recent) in the Elk River and Richland Creek, Tennessee. In Kentucky, it is sporadic in the upper Green River and eastward (Cicerello and Schuster, 2003). In Alabama, it occurred across northern Alabama in the Tennessee River and some tributaries but is extant only in the Paint Rock River (Ahlstedt, 1996; Mirarchi, 2004; Williams et al., 2008). In Mississippi, it is found only in Tennessee River drainage (Jones et al., 2005). In Indiana, Harmon (1989) reported it from six of 12 sites surveyed in Graham Creek in the southeast portion of the state; as well as from 7 sites plus 10 additional sites as weathered specimens from Sugar Creek (east fork White River drainage) in central Indiana (Harmon, 1992), Tippecanoe River (Cummings and Berlocher, 1990), and Graham Creek (Harmon, 1989); but most of its former distribution across the entire state is now extirpated (except a few scattered sites including Wabash tributaries- Fisher, 2006). In Ohio, it is largely associated with the Great and Little Miami Rivers, Scioto and Muskingum tributaries in unglaciated Ohio (Watters, 1992) including Big Darby Creek (Watters, 1995) and Grad, Maumee, and Sandusky Rivers andSwan Creek in Lake Erie drainage (Watters et al., 2009). In Arkansas, it is known from two localities within the White River, a few sites in the Spring River and Strawberry River, and a single dead specimen from the Black River at the Spring River mouth (Gordon, 1982; Harris and Gordon, 1987; Harris et al., 1997). Two spent shells were recently collected in the mainstem of the Tonawanda Creek basin (Niagara River drainage) in western New York (Marangelo and Strayer, 2000), the first records for that state since 1950 (Strayer and Jirka, 1997). This species occurs in Muddy Creek (French Creek drainage) in the Erie NWR in Crawford Co., Pennsylvania (Mohler et al., 2006). The best population in Michigan is probably in the Clinton River in the southeast (Trdan and Hoeh, 1993; Strayer, 1980); also SE Lake Michigan, Pine and Belle basins (Badra and Goforth, 2003). In Canada, it now only remains in the Sydenham River (Metcalfe-Smith et al., 2003) and one specimen found in the Ausable River in 2003, in Ontario (Metcalfe-Smith and Cudmore-Vokey, 2004), although a very small, isolated population may still exist in the lower reaches of the Thames River in Ontario (Cudmore et al., 2004).

Population Size: 2500 - 100,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Due to problems in obtaining a unbiased and complete sample, abundance in mussels is difficult to estimate, and no estimates of population size or abundance have been made for this species. Populations are often small but it can be locally abundant (i.e. in the Clinton River, Michigan). Smith and Crabtree (2010) found this species at 9 of 32 sites (2 with recruitment) along the entire length of Pennsylvania's French Creek.

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Very few to few (1-12)
Viability/Integrity Comments: Barr et al. (1994) determined (based on 1981 survey data) that viable populations exist in the Clinch and Powell Rivers. In Minnesota, it persists only in a short reach of the lower St. Croix River as one of the largest populations remaining in the midwest (Sietman, 2003). Oesch (1995) cited locally abundant populations in the Bourbeuse and St. Francis Rivers in Missouri. Illinois localities are believed to have minimal viability.

Overall Threat Impact: High
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Smith (1971) ranked the causes of extirpation or declines in fish species as follows: siltation, drainage of bottomland lakes, swamps, and prairie marshes, desiccation during drought, species introductions, pollution, impoundments, and increased water temperatures. All of these factors render habitats unsuitable, cause extirpations, and lead to the isolation of populations thereby increasing their vulnerability to extirpation for many aquatic species (including mussels) throughout North America. Zebra mussels, Dreissena polymorpha, have destroyed mussel populations in the Great Lakes and significantly reduced mussels in many of the large rivers of eastern North America. Zebra mussels-have the potential to severely threaten other populations especially if they make their way into smaller streams. Pollution through point (industrial and residential discharge) and non-point (siltation, herbicide and fertilizer run-off) sources is perhaps the greatest on-going threat to this species and most freshwater mussels. Lowered dissolved oxygen content and elevated ammonia levels (frequently associated with agricultural runoff and sewage discharge) have been shown to be lethal to some species of freshwater naiads (Horne and McIntosh, 1979). Residential, mineral and industrial development also pose a significant threat. Rotenone, a toxin used to kill fish in bodies of water for increased sport fishery quality, has been shown to be lethal to mussels as well (Heard, 1970). Destruction of habitat through stream channelization and maintenance and the construction of dams is still a threat in some areas. Impoundments reduce currents that are necessary for basic physiological activities such as feeding, waste removal and reproduction. In addition, reduced water flow typically results in a reduction in water oxygen levels and a settling out of suspended solids (silt, etc.), both of which are detrimental. Dredging of streams has an immediate effect on existing populations by physically removing and destroying individuals. Dredging also affects the long-term recolonization abilities by destroying much of the potential habitat, making the substrates and flow rates uniform throughout the system. Natural predators include raccoons, otter, mink, muskrats, turtles and some birds (Simpson, 1899; Boepple and Coker, 1912; Evermann and Clark, 1918; Coker et al., 1921; Parmalee, 1967; Snyder and Snyder, 1969). Domestic animals such as hogs can root mussel beds to pieces (Meek and Clark, 1912). Fishes, particularly catfish, Ictalurus spp. and Ameirus spp. and freshwater drum, Aplodinotus grunniens, also consume large numbers of unionids. See the General Freshwater Mussel ESA.

Short-term Trend: Decline of 10-30%
Short-term Trend Comments: It was historically widespread in the Midwest. Today it is rare and considered endangered in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin. It is threatened in Ohio and rare in Missouri (Cummings and Mayer, 1992). In Minnesota, this species has been extirpated from the Mississippi River below St. Anthony Falls (Sietman, 2003). It was recently documented in the Fox River basin in Illinois by a single weathered valve in Nippersink Creek with no specimens on the Wisconsin side of the basin (Schanzle et al., 2004). The species has not been collected alive in New York (historically known from Niagara River, Lake Erie, Buffalo River) since 1950 (Strayer and Jirka, 1997) but spent shells have been found recently. Historically in Canada it occurred in Ontario in Lake St. Clair, Lake Erie, the Thames, Grand, Niagara, Ausable, and Saudenham Rivers but has been extirpated from all but the latter two (Metcalfe-Smith and Cudmore-Vokey, 2004). It is likely extirpated from Swan Creek (Lower Maumee drainage) in Ohio as only weathered shells were found there recently (Grabarciewicz, 2008).

Long-term Trend: Decline of 30-50%
Long-term Trend Comments: In Kansas, it was historically found in the Wakarusa (Tiemann, 2006) and Marais des Cygnes Rivers but is now extirpated in the state (Couch, 1997). In Missouri, historic occurrences are known from the South Grand and Lake of the Ozarks basins (Oesch, 1995). In Kansas, it was historically found in the Wakarusa and Marais des Cygnes Rivers but is now extirpated in the state (Couch, 1997). It was known from the Black River, Ohio, over 100 years ago (Lyons et al., 2007).

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable
Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: The decline in the overall range suggests that it is not tolerant to poor water quality. The sites where it still occurs are usually high quality streams with little disturbance to the substrate or riparian zone. Sensitive to pollution, siltation, habitat perturbation, inundation, and loss of glochidial hosts.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: Historical distribution and current status of extant populations are reasonably well known. Periodic status surveys are needed to monitor changes in the remaining populations of this mussel.

Distribution
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Global Range: (200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)) It was historically widespread in the upper Mississippi and Ohio River drainages. It was widespread but never abundant in the Tennessee River system. It has been drastically reduced in range and is endangered in many states where it occurs. Extant populations can still be found in Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and West Virginia. Most populations are small and geographically isolated from one another. In Mississippi, it is found only in Tennessee River drainage (Jones et al., 2005). In Arkansas, it is known from a handfull of sites represented by only single or a few specimens in each (Harris and Gordon, 1987; Harris et al., 1997). It was historically known from New York in the Niagara River, Lake, Erie, and the Buffalo River but is likely extirpated there (Strayer and Jirka, 1997) (although two spent shells were recently found in the Niagara River drainage- Marangelo and Strayer, 2000).

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 AL, AR, IAextirpated, IL, IN, KSextirpated, KY, MI, MN, MO, MS, NE, NY, OH, PA, TN, VA, WI, WV
Canada ON

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
AL Franklin (01059)*, Jackson (01071), Lauderdale (01077)*, Madison (01089), Marshall (01095)
AR Baxter (05005), Carroll (05015), Independence (05063), Izard (05065), Lawrence (05075), Marion (05089), Randolph (05121), Sharp (05135)
IL Coles (17029), Douglas (17041)
IN Adams (18001), Bartholomew (18005), Carroll (18015), Cass (18017), Crawford (18025), Fountain (18045), Gibson (18051)*, Greene (18055)*, Hamilton (18057), Hancock (18059), Harrison (18061), Huntington (18069), Jay (18075), Jefferson (18077), Jennings (18079), Johnson (18081), Knox (18083)*, Lagrange (18087), Marion (18097), Martin (18101), Miami (18103), Morgan (18109), Owen (18119)*, Parke (18121), Posey (18129)*, Shelby (18145), Sullivan (18153)*, Tippecanoe (18157), Vermillion (18165)*, Wabash (18169), Warren (18171), Wells (18179), White (18181)
KY Allen (21003), Barren (21009), Bath (21011), Butler (21031), Campbell (21037)*, Carter (21043), Casey (21045)*, Clay (21051), Clinton (21053)*, Cumberland (21057)*, Edmonson (21061), Estill (21065)*, Fleming (21069), Grayson (21085), Green (21087), Greenup (21089), Hardin (21093), Hart (21099), Henderson (21101)*, Jefferson (21111)*, Kenton (21117)*, Larue (21123), Lee (21129), Leslie (21131), Lewis (21135), Logan (21141), Marion (21155), McCreary (21147)*, Menifee (21165), Montgomery (21173), Morgan (21175), Nelson (21179), Nicholas (21181), Owsley (21189), Powell (21197), Pulaski (21199), Rowan (21205), Russell (21207)*, Spencer (21215)*, Taylor (21217), Warren (21227), Wayne (21231)*, Wolfe (21237)
MI Berrien (26021), Gratiot (26057), Huron (26063)*, Ionia (26067), Kent (26081), Livingston (26093), Macomb (26099)*, Midland (26111), Monroe (26115)*, Newaygo (26123), Oakland (26125), Saginaw (26145), St. Clair (26147), St. Joseph (26149), Tuscola (26157)*, Washtenaw (26161)*, Wayne (26163)*
MN Chisago (27025), Dakota (27037), Washington (27163)
MO Bollinger (29017), Franklin (29071), Gasconade (29073), Jefferson (29099), Phelps (29161)*, Ripley (29181), St. Louis (29189), Wayne (29223)
MS Tishomingo (28141)*
OH Ashtabula (39007), Clermont (39025), Coshocton (39031), Delaware (39041), Franklin (39049), Greene (39057), Hamilton (39061), Lake (39085), Madison (39097), Marion (39101), Montgomery (39113), Morgan (39115), Morrow (39117)*, Muskingum (39119), Ottawa (39123)*, Pickaway (39129), Pike (39131)*, Ross (39141), Scioto (39145), Union (39159), Warren (39165), Washington (39167)
PA Allegheny (42003)*, Armstrong (42005), Beaver (42007)*, Clarion (42031), Crawford (42039), Erie (42049), Greene (42059), Indiana (42063), Lawrence (42073)*, Mercer (42085), Venango (42121)
TN Claiborne (47025), Coffee (47031)*, DeKalb (47041)*, Giles (47055), Greene (47059), Hancock (47067), Lincoln (47103), Marshall (47117), Maury (47119), Putnam (47141)*, Smith (47159)*
VA Lee (51105), Scott (51169), Washington (51191)*
WI Menominee (55078), Outagamie (55087), Pierce (55093), Polk (55095), Shawano (55115), St. Croix (55109), Waupaca (55135), Waushara (55137)
WV Gilmer (54021)*, Jackson (54035), Kanawha (54039), Monongalia (54061), Ritchie (54085), Tyler (54095)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
03 Upper Tombigbee (03160101)*
04 Upper Fox (04030201)*, Wolf (04030202)+, St. Joseph (04050001)+, Upper Grand (04050004)+, Maple (04050005)+, Lower Grand (04050006)+, Muskegon (04060102)+, Pigeon-Wiscoggin (04080103)+*, Tittabawassee (04080201)+*, Pine (04080202)+, Cass (04080205)+, Saginaw (04080206)+*, Lake Huron (04080300)*, St. Clair (04090001)+, Lake St. Clair (04090002)+*, Clinton (04090003)+, Detroit (04090004)+, Huron (04090005)+, Ottawa-Stony (04100001)+*, Lower Maumee (04100009)*, Cedar-Portage (04100010)+*, Sandusky (04100011)*, Huron-Vermilion (04100012)*, Black-Rocky (04110001)*, Grand (04110004)+, Chautauqua-Conneaut (04120101)*, Cattaraugus (04120102)*, Buffalo-Eighteenmile (04120103)*, Niagara (04120104)*, Lake Erie (04120200)+*
05 French (05010004)+, Middle Allegheny-Redbank (05010006)+, West Fork (05020002), Lower Monongahela (05020005)+, Upper Ohio (05030101)+*, Shenango (05030102)+, Mahoning (05030103)+*, Beaver (05030104)+*, Connoquenessing (05030105)+*, Little Muskingum-Middle Island (05030201)+, Upper Ohio-Shade (05030202)+, Little Kanawha (05030203)+, Hocking (05030204)*, Tuscarawas (05040001)*, Mohican (05040002)+*, Walhonding (05040003)+, Muskingum (05040004)+, Wills (05040005)+, Elk (05050007)+, Upper Scioto (05060001)+, Lower Scioto (05060002)+, Paint (05060003)+*, Upper Great Miami (05080001)+, Little Scioto-Tygarts (05090103)+, Little Sandy (05090104)+*, Ohio Brush-Whiteoak (05090201)+, Little Miami (05090202)+, Middle Ohio-Laughery (05090203)+*, Licking (05100101)+, North Fork Kentucky (05100201), Middle Fork Kentucky (05100202)+, South Fork Kentucky (05100203)+, Upper Kentucky (05100204)+, Upper Green (05110001)+, Barren (05110002)+, Lower Green (05110005)+*, Upper Wabash (05120101)+, Salamonie (05120102)+, Mississinewa (05120103)+, Middle Wabash-Deer (05120105)+, Tippecanoe (05120106)+, Wildcat (05120107)+, Middle Wabash-Little Vermilion (05120108)+, Vermilion (05120109)+*, Sugar (05120110)+, Middle Wabash-Busseron (05120111)+, Embarras (05120112)+, Lower Wabash (05120113)+*, Upper White (05120201)+, Lower White (05120202)+*, Driftwood (05120204)+, Flatrock-Haw (05120205)+, Upper East Fork White (05120206)+, Muscatatuck (05120207)+, Lower East Fork White (05120208)+, Upper Cumberland-Lake Cumberland (05130103)+, South Fork Cumberland (05130104)+*, Obey (05130105)*, Upper Cumberland-Cordell Hull (05130106), Caney (05130108)+*, Lower Cumberland-Old Hickory Lake (05130201)*, Red (05130206)+, Silver-Little Kentucky (05140101)+*, Salt (05140102)+*, Rolling Fork (05140103)+, Blue-Sinking (05140104)+, Lower Ohio-Little Pigeon (05140201)+*, Highland-Pigeon (05140202)*
06 North Fork Holston (06010101)+*, South Fork Holston (06010102)*, Holston (06010104)*, Nolichucky (06010108)+, Watts Bar Lake (06010201)*, Upper Clinch (06010205)+, Powell (06010206)+, Middle Tennessee-Chickamauga (06020001)*, Guntersville Lake (06030001)+*, Wheeler Lake (06030002)+, Upper Elk (06030003)+, Lower Elk (06030004)+, Pickwick Lake (06030005)+*, Bear (06030006)+*, Upper Duck (06040002)+
07 Twin Cities (07010206)+, Lower St. Croix (07030005)+, Rush-Vermillion (07040001)*, Buffalo-Whitewater (07040003)*, La Crosse-Pine (07040006)*, Coon-Yellow (07060001)*, Lower Wisconsin (07070005)*, Crawfish (07090002)*, Lower Rock (07090005)*, Kankakee (07120001)*, Upper Illinois (07120005)*, Upper Fox (07120006), Lower Fox (07120007)*, Lower Illinois-Senachwine Lake (07130001)*, South Fork Sangamon (07130007)*, Lower Sangamon (07130008)*, Meramec (07140102)+, Bourbeuse (07140103)+, Whitewater (07140107)+, Cache (07140108)*, Upper Kaskaskia (07140201)*
08 Upper St. Francis (08020202)+, Lower St. Francis (08020203), Little River Ditches (08020204)
10 Lower Kansas (10270104)*, Upper Marais Des Cygnes (10290101)*, Lower Marais Des Cygnes (10290102)*, South Grand (10290108)*, Lake of the Ozarks (10290109)*
11 Beaver Reservoir (11010001)+, Bull Shoals Lake (11010003)+, Middle White (11010004)+, Buffalo (11010005)+, Upper Black (11010007)+, Current (11010008)+, Lower Black (11010009)+, Spring (11010010)+, Strawberry (11010012)+
+ 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 triangular-shaped freshwater mussel; relatively thick for its size, yellow or yellowish green with green rays, blotches, or chevron markings.
General Description: SHELL EXTERIOR: Shell small, fairly solid, triangular (males) to somewhat elongate (females) and inflated (particularly in females). Anterior end rounded, posterior end truncated in males, expanded in females. Dorsal and ventral margins straight to slightly curved. Posterior ridge sharply angled, and the posterior slope wide, expanded, and ribbed (especially in females). Umbos swollen and slightly elevated above the hinge line. Beak sculpture of three to four faint, double-looped bars. Periostracum yellow or yellowish green, with numerous dark green rays, blotches or chevron-shaped markings. Length to 2.5 inches.

SHELL INTERIOR: Pseudocardinal teeth elevated, roughened, relatively thin and compressed; two in the left valve, two in the right, the front one thinner and much smaller. Lateral teeth very short, slightly curved, serrated, and elevated. Beak cavity fairly deep. Nacre pearly white, iridescent posteriorly (Cummings and Mayer, 1992).

Reproduction Comments: Reported hosts include the Ozark sculpin, Cottus hypselarus, blackspotted topminnow, Fundulus olivaceous, banded sculpin, Cottus caroline and the logperch, Percina caprodes (Hill, 1986; Sherman, 1993; Yeager and Saylor, 1995; Hove et al., 1998; 2003; Hillegrass and Hove, 1997; Barnhart and Baird, 1998). Hove et al. (2000) and Hove and Kapuscinski (1998) also confirmed the blackside darter Percina maculata. New host fish confirmation from Watters et al. (2005): mottled sculpin, Cottus bairdi.
Habitat Type: Freshwater
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Riverine Habitat(s): BIG RIVER, MEDIUM RIVER, Riffle
Special Habitat Factors: Benthic
Habitat Comments: This species is found in riffles of small and medium creeks, in large rivers, and in shoals and wave-washed shores of lakes (Baker 1928, Parmalee and Bogan 1998). Except when spawning, adults are usually burrowed deep in sand, gravel or cobble substrates (USFWS 2012). They are suspension feeders, typically feeding on algae, bacteria, detritus, microscopic animals, and dissolved organic material.
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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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 snuffbox be ascertained. Life history studies need 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 abundances 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: 28Apr2009
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Cordeiro, J. (2009); Cummings, K. S. (2nd edition); Lipford, M.; Bier (1998)
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 08Dec2006
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).

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References for Watershed Distribution Map
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  • 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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Citation for Bird Range Maps of North America:
Ridgely, R.S., T.F. Allnutt, T. Brooks, D.K. McNicol, D.W. Mehlman, B.E. Young, and J.R. Zook. 2003. Digital Distribution Maps of the Birds of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Bird Range Maps of North America:
"Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy - Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International - CABS, World Wildlife Fund - US, and Environment Canada - WILDSPACE."

Citation for Mammal Range Maps of North America:
Patterson, B.D., G. Ceballos, W. Sechrest, M.F. Tognelli, T. Brooks, L. Luna, P. Ortega, I. Salazar, and B.E. Young. 2003. Digital Distribution Maps of the Mammals of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Mammal Range Maps of North America:
"Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Bruce Patterson, Wes Sechrest, Marcelo Tognelli, Gerardo Ceballos, The Nature Conservancy-Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International-CABS, World Wildlife Fund-US, and Environment Canada-WILDSPACE."

Citation for Amphibian Range Maps of the Western Hemisphere:
IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe. 2004. Global Amphibian Assessment. IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe, Washington, DC and Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Amphibian Range Maps of the Western Hemisphere:
"Data developed as part of the Global Amphibian Assessment and provided by IUCN-World Conservation Union, Conservation International and NatureServe."

NOTE: Full metadata for the Bird Range Maps of North America is available at:
http://www.natureserve.org/library/birdDistributionmapsmetadatav1.pdf.

Full metadata for the Mammal Range Maps of North America is available at:
http://www.natureserve.org/library/mammalsDistributionmetadatav1.pdf.

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