Ptychobranchus greenii - (Conrad, 1834)
Triangular Kidneyshell
Synonym(s): Ptychobranchus greeni (Conrad, 1834)
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Ptychobranchus greenii (Conrad, 1834) (TSN 80159)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.827877
Element Code: IMBIV38020
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Invertebrates - Mollusks - Freshwater Mussels
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Mollusca Bivalvia Unionoida Unionidae Ptychobranchus
Genus Size: B - Very small genus (2-5 species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: 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.
Concept Reference Code: B08WIL01EHUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Ptychobranchus greenii
Taxonomic Comments: Spelling of Ptychobranchus greenii is correct as of Turgeon et al. (1998). This species exhibits variable shell morphology and may be confused with some species of Pleurobema . Ecomorphs of the species are best identified by process of elimination (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1993). Ptychobranchus foremanianus was placed in the synonymy of Ptychobranchus greenii by most previous works. It is recognized in Williams et al. (2008) based on subtle differences in shell coloration, as noted by Ortmann (1923). Preliminary genetic analyses suggest at least two species in the Mobile Basin (K.J. Roe, pers. comm.). The species is now split into Ptychobranchus greenii (Black Warrior and Tombigbee basins) and Ptychobranchus foremanianus (Alabama, Cahaba, Coosa basins).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G1
Global Status Last Reviewed: 14May2009
Global Status Last Changed: 17Oct1997
Rounded Global Status: G1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: This is a declining regional endemic that is rare throughout most of its range. Although some range restriction has occurred (lost from much of the Black Warrior River drainage) decline has primarily occurred in area of occupancy where it currently likely occupies less than 50% of the sites it formerly occupied.
Nation: United States
National Status: N1 (17Oct1997)

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)

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: EN - Endangered
American Fisheries Society Status: Endangered (01Jan1993)

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 100-1000 square km (about 40-400 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: The type locality for Ptychobranchus greenii is the headwaters of the Black Warrior River, Alabama. Historically, the range included the Black Warrior Rives and tributaries in Alabama (USFWS, 2004). Additional records include the Black Warrior River and tributaries (Mulberry Fork, Locust Fork, North and Little Warrior Rivers, Brushy Creek, Sipsey Fork). Overall, the species is endemic to the Black Warrior and Tombigbee River drainages of the Mobile Basin in Alabama only (Williams et al., 2008). The current range includes the Sipsey Fork and Little Warrior River in the Black Warrior River drainage (USFWS, 1993) with a single record from Coalfire Creek, a tributary of the Tombigbee Rvier well below the Fall Line in Pickens Co. (Williams et al., 2008). Records from the remainder fo the Mobile Basin are now recognized as Ptychobranchus foremanianus including Cahaba River specimens (Williams et al., 2008).

Area of Occupancy: 26-500 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments:  

Number of Occurrences: 1 - 5
Number of Occurrences Comments: This species is currently known to inhabit the Sipsey Fork and tributaries (Winston/Lawrence County, Alabama) and Locust Fork (Blount County, Alabama) of the Black Warrior River (Mirarchi et al., 2004). Numerous surveys have targeted this species (USFWS, 1993; Pierson, 1992; J. D. Williams, pers. comm. 10/10/97). Healthy populations appear to remain in two streams in Banhhead National Forest and very small, isolated populations exist in the Sipsey Fork and Locust Fork tributaries of the Black Warrior basin. Most records are from the Black Warrior River drainage near and above the Fall Line but one record exists from Coalfire Creek, a tributary of the Tombigbee River well below the Fall Lien in Pickens Co.. It is extant in isolated localized populations only (Williams et al., 2008). Records from the remainder fo the Mobile Basin are now recognized as Ptychobranchus foremanianus including Cahaba River specimens (Williams et al., 2008).

Population Size: Unknown
Population Size Comments: Population estimates are not known. Numbers typically are low.

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Very few (1-3)
Viability/Integrity Comments: Populations are small and localized in the Sipsey Fork drainage and in the Conasauga River and a single fresh dead shell is the only evidence of the species in the Cahaba River. The species is rarely found in the Locust Fork tributary of the Black Warrior River (USFWS, 2000; 2004).

Overall Threat Impact: High
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Loss of habitat due to impoundments is the primary reason for the decline of the species. It may also be threatened by overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific and educational purposes (U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1993). 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: Decline of 50-70%
Short-term Trend Comments: This species has been extirpated from the primary channels of the Black Warrior River (USFWS, 2004).

Long-term Trend: Decline of 50-70%

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Highly vulnerable
Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: The extremely limited range and low numbers of the species make it very vulnerable to actual and potential threats. 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: Unknown

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: Continue surveys to determine the extent of known populations and to locate any unknown populations.

Protection Needs: Critical habitat being proposed in 13 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: (100-1000 square km (about 40-400 square miles)) The type locality for Ptychobranchus greenii is the headwaters of the Black Warrior River, Alabama. Historically, the range included the Black Warrior Rives and tributaries in Alabama (USFWS, 2004). Additional records include the Black Warrior River and tributaries (Mulberry Fork, Locust Fork, North and Little Warrior Rivers, Brushy Creek, Sipsey Fork). Overall, the species is endemic to the Black Warrior and Tombigbee River drainages of the Mobile Basin in Alabama only (Williams et al., 2008). The current range includes the Sipsey Fork and Little Warrior River in the Black Warrior River drainage (USFWS, 1993) with a single record from Coalfire Creek, a tributary of the Tombigbee Rvier well below the Fall Line in Pickens Co. (Williams et al., 2008). Records from the remainder fo the Mobile Basin are now recognized as Ptychobranchus foremanianus including Cahaba River specimens (Williams et al., 2008).

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 state or province

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AL

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
AL Blount (01009)*, Cherokee (01019)*, Etowah (01055)*, Lawrence (01079), Winston (01133)
GA Murray (13213), Whitfield (13313)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
03 Conasauga (03150101)+, Upper Coosa (03150105)+*, Middle Coosa (03150106)+*, Middle Tombigbee-Lubbub (03160106)*, Mulberry (03160109)*, Sipsey Fork (03160110)+, Locust (03160111)+, Upper Black Warrior (03160112)*
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A freshwater mussel or bivalve mollusk which attains a maximum adult size of about 100 mm (4.0 in.) in length. The outer shell is straw-yellow in young specimens becoming yellow- brown in older specimens. Occasionally, it may have fine and wavy or wide and broken green rays anterior to the posterior ridge.
General Description: This species is oval to elliptical in outline. The shell is generally compressed, and may be flattened ventral to the umbos. The posterior ridge is broadly rounded and terminates in a broadly rounded point post-ventrally. The pseudocardinal teeth are heavy, and the laterals are heavy, gently curved and short. The periostracum is straw-yellow in young specimens, but becomes yellow-brown in older ones. It may have fine and wavy, or wide and broken, green rays anterior to the posterior ridge (FWS, 2003).
Reproduction Comments: Freshwater mussel larvae (glochidia) are brooded in the gills of the female and when mature are released into the water where they spend a brief period as obligate parasites on the gills, fins, or other external parts of fish until they drop off to the benthos. Haag and Warren (1997) also noted that it released its glochidia in conglutinates that "...were round and pearl-colored with 2 black eye-spots and strongly resembled fertilized fish eggs." Females were found gravid with mature glochidia in mid April with water temperature of 13 degrees C (Haag and Warren, 1997). Gravid females were observed in March 1994 and April 1996. Glochidia are packaged into conglutinates that mimic small aquatic fly larvae (Hartfield and Hartfield, 1996) or fish eggs (Haag and Warren, 1997). Suitable host fish include Etheostoma bellator (warrior darter), Etheostoma douglasi (Tuskaloosa darter), Percina nigrofaciata (blackbanded darter), and Percina cf. caprodes (logperch) (Haag and Warren, 1997).
Habitat Type: Freshwater
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Riverine Habitat(s): BIG RIVER, CREEK, High gradient, MEDIUM RIVER, Moderate gradient, Pool, Riffle
Special Habitat Factors: Benthic
Habitat Comments: This species appears most prevalent in sections of river three feet in depth and having a good current and a firm substrate as opposed to coarse gravel and sand (Parmalee and Bogan, 1998) in shoals and runs of small rivers and large streams (USFWS, 2000).
Length: 10 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.

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 Sipsey Fork, North River, Locust Fork, Cahaba River, Coosa River, Hatchet Creek, Kelly Creek, Shoal Creek, Yellowleaf Creek, Big Canoe Creek, and the lower Coosa River; in Georgia in Oostanaula complex; and in Tennessee in Oostanaula complex (641 occuppied, 297 unoccuppied km) (USFWS, 2004).

Biological Research Needs: 1. Conduct life history studies with an emphasis on fish host identification. 2. Perform genetic analysis on all existing populations. (Paul Hartfield is doing this - pers. comm., 10/17/1997. 3. Determine if culturing of the species is a viable means of conservation. 4. Assess potential sites for reintroduction if culturing the species is successful.
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: 14May2009
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Cordeiro, J.
Management Information Edition Date: 24May2007
Management Information Edition 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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  • Haag, W. R., and M. L. Warren, Jr. 1997. Host fishes and reproductive biology of 6 freshwater mussel species from the Mobile Basin, USA. Journal of the North American Benthological Society, 16(3): 576-585.

  • 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.

  • Ortmann, A.E. 1923. Notes on the anatomy and taxonomy of certain Lampsilinae from the Gulf drainage. The Nautilus 37(3):56-60.

  • Pierson, J. M. 1992. A survey of freshwater mussels of the upper North River system in the vicinity of the proposed Tom Bevill Reservoir, Fayette and Tuscaloosa Counties, Alabama. Unpublished report submitted to Almon Associates. 31 pp. + fieldnotes.

  • 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). 1997. Draft Recovery Plan for the Mobile River basin aquatic ecosystem. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Southeast Region, Atlanta, Georgia.

  • 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.

  • 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., 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. 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., 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
  • Biological Resources Division, USGS. 1997. Database of museum records of aquatic species. Compiled by J. Williams (USGS-BRD, Gainesville, FL).

  • 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., 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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