Quadrula couchiana - (I. Lea, 1860)
Rio Grande Monkeyface
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Quadrula couchiana (I. Lea, 1860) (TSN 80077)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.109413
Element Code: IMBIV39180
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Invertebrates - Mollusks - Freshwater Mussels
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Mollusca Bivalvia Unionoida Unionidae Quadrula
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: Quadrula couchiana
Taxonomic Comments: Systematics of this species has not been well studied and no biochemical genetic analyses have been performed because no soft tissue specimens are known. It is one of only two members of the genus recorded from the Rio Grande and the other, Quadrula apiculata, may be an introduction (Howells et al., 1996; Neck and Metcalf, 1988).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: GH
Global Status Last Reviewed: 30May2007
Global Status Last Changed: 30May1998
Rounded Global Status: GH - Possibly Extinct
Reasons: There appears to be no confirmation of living specimens in Texas or Mexico in this century; last seen in 1898; continued existence is in doubt, but there is a slim possibility it may turn up in Mexico.
Nation: United States
National Status: NH (30May1998)

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 New Mexico (SX), Texas (SH)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: CR - Critically endangered
American Fisheries Society Status: Endangered (01Jan1993)

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: Zero (no occurrences believed extant)
Range Extent Comments: This species may be extinct. The species was known from fossils in Rio Grande River in Texas; old weathered shells reported from the Rio Conchos River in Chihuahua, Mexico (Howells, 1996; Howells et al., 1996). Johnson (1999) reports subfossil specimens in the Pecos River drainage, New Mexico and Texas (not seen and claims outside range); Devils River drainage, Texas; Las Moras Creek drainage, Texas; Rio Salado drainage, Coahuila and Nuevo Leon, Mexico; and Chacon Creek drainage, Texas (possible misidentification of Quadrula petrina). It is believed the last living specimens was collected near Bracketville, Texas in 1898 (Howells, 2004). UMMZ specimens exist from the 1920s from Tamaulipas, Mexico in the Rio Salado (opposite Laredo, Texas).

Area of Occupancy: 0 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments: This species is likely extinct globally.

Number of Occurrences: 0 (zero)
Number of Occurrences Comments: The only apparent report of this species in this century (other than fossil shells) appears to be a verbal report by D. Taylor to A. Metcalf (Neck, 1984) that living specimens (subsequently determined to be old dead shells and not living specimens) had been found in the Rio Conchos, Mexico. It appears the last living specimens were apparently documented in the late 1800s (Howells et al., 1996; 1997). High probability sites along the Rio Grande have been recently surveyed (based on historical records there from the 1890s) without success indicating this species may well be globally extinct.

Population Size: Zero, no individuals known extant
Population Size Comments: This species is likely extinct.

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: None (zero)

Overall Threat Impact: Very high - high
Overall Threat Impact Comments: If survivors remain at all, continued poor land and water management practices in conjunction with increased development associated with trade across border areas suggest limited probability of continued survival.

Short-term Trend: Decline of >70%
Short-term Trend Comments: The unionid fauna of Rio Grande drainage basin appears to have declined dramatically. Among over 180 locations examined by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in the Rio Grande River of Texas and Mexico, only 15 sites (8%) contained living mussels and 23 (13%) had recently-dead or relatively-recently dead shells suggesting possible surviving populations in the area. However, 79% of the locations examined produced either long-dead or subfossil shells or fragments, or no trace of unionids at all. In addition, species diversity also appears to have been reduced (Howells, 2000). Because conditions throughout the Rio Grande drainage of Texas and Mexico have degraded badly over the past 100 years and continue to decline with the development of increased international trade across the border, even if this species does still survive, continued security seems unlikely.

Long-term Trend: Decline of >90%
Long-term Trend Comments: Although weathered shells and fossil specimens are known from Texas and Chihuahua, Mexico, recent specimens are not known (Neck, 1984; Howells et al., 1996; 1997; Johnson, 1999), and this species has likely declined to extinction. The last living specimen was collected in 1898 (Howells, 2004).

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Unknown
Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: The fragility of the species itself is unknown, but both the terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems within its range are extremely fragile.

Environmental Specificity: Unknown

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: The Rio Grande drainage in both Texas and Mexico needs intensive study. Taylor (1967) summarized historical border-survey records, Neck and Metcalf (1988) discussed the lower Rio Grande, Howells and Garrett (1995) commented briefly on observations in the Rio Conchos, Mexico, and Howells et al. (1997) reported on more-recent collections in Texas. However, the majority of this drainage basin has not been examined in detail recently, if ever. Currently, both Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and New Mexico Department of Game and Fish are jointly surveying areas of the Rio Grande drainage for the presence of unionid populations; this work needs to continue..

Distribution
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Global Range: (Zero (no occurrences believed extant)) This species may be extinct. The species was known from fossils in Rio Grande River in Texas; old weathered shells reported from the Rio Conchos River in Chihuahua, Mexico (Howells, 1996; Howells et al., 1996). Johnson (1999) reports subfossil specimens in the Pecos River drainage, New Mexico and Texas (not seen and claims outside range); Devils River drainage, Texas; Las Moras Creek drainage, Texas; Rio Salado drainage, Coahuila and Nuevo Leon, Mexico; and Chacon Creek drainage, Texas (possible misidentification of Quadrula petrina). It is believed the last living specimens was collected near Bracketville, Texas in 1898 (Howells, 2004). UMMZ specimens exist from the 1920s from Tamaulipas, Mexico in the Rio Salado (opposite Laredo, Texas).

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 NMextirpated, TX

Range Map
No map available.

U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
13 Elm-Sycamore (13080001)*, San Ambrosia-Santa Isabel (13080002)*
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed (based on multiple information sources) Help
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A freshwater mussel with an ashy or greenish-brown colored shell.
General Description: To at least 53 mm in shell length (Metcalf 1982); shell subrhomboidal to round or oval; solid; beaks elevated but not high; posterior ridge moderately developed but sulcus rather shallow; disk may be covered with pustules to completely smooth; beak cavities deep; external color ashy- or greenish-brown; internal color white (Howells et al. 1996).
Reproduction Comments: Glochidia remain undescribed and hosts are undetermined.
Habitat Type: Freshwater
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Riverine Habitat(s): CREEK, MEDIUM RIVER, Moderate gradient
Special Habitat Factors: Benthic
Habitat Comments: Habitat for this species is largely undescribed and unreported, but it probably occurred in small to moderate size streams and moderate size rivers with flowing waters and substrates ranging from mud to gravel.
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Biological Research Needs: Knowledge of this species is largely restricted to a limited number of museum specimens and a few short historical collection reports from the last century. Virtually all aspects of biology and ecology are unknown.
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: 30May2007
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Cordeiro, J. (2007); Howells, R. G. (1998)
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 20Jul2006
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
  • Howard, A.D. 1915. Some exceptional cases of breeding among the Unionidae. The Nautilus 29:4-11.

  • Howells, R.G. 1996b. Distributional surveys of freshwater mussels bivalves in Texas: progress report for 1995. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Management Data Series 125: Austin, Texas.

  • Howells, R.G. 2000. Recent freshwater-mussel surveys of the Rio Grande, Texas and Mexico. Triannual Unionid Report, 19: unpaginated.

  • Howells, R.G. 2004. Last stand for mussels of the Rio Bravo? Eye on Nature (Texas Parks and Wildlife), spring, 2004: 2.

  • Howells, R.G. and G.P. Garrett. 1995. Freshwater mussel surveys of the Rio Grande tributaries in Chihuahua, Mexico. Triannual Unionid Report, 8: 10.

  • Howells, R.G., C.M. Mather, and J.A.M. Bergmann. 1997. Conservation status of selected freshwater mussels in Texas. Pages 117-126 in K.S. Cummings, A.C. Buchanan, C.A. Mayer, and T.J. Naimo (eds.). Conservation and Management of Freshwater Mussels II: Initiatives for the Future, Proceedings of a UMRCC Symposium, 16-18 October, 1995, St. Louis, Missouri. Upper Mississippi River Conservation Committee, Rock Island, Illinois.

  • Howells, R.G., R.W. Neck, and H.D. Murray. 1996. Freshwater Mussels of Texas. Texas Parks and Wildlife Press: Austin, Texas. 218 pp.

  • Johnson, R.I. 1999. Unionidae of the Rio Grande (Rio Bravo del Norte) system of Texas and Mexico. Occasional Papers on Mollusks, 6(77): 1-65.

  • 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.

  • Metcalf, A.L. 1982. Fossil unionacean bivalves from three tributaries of the Rio Grande. Pages 43-59 in N.R. Davis (ed.) Proceedings of the Symposium in Recent Benthological Investigations in Texas and Adjacent States. Aquatic Science Section, Texas Academy of Science: Austin, Texas. 278 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.

  • Neck, R. W. and A.L. Metcalf. 1988. Freshwater bivalves of the lower Rio Grande, Texas. The Texas Journal of Science, 40(3): 259-268.

  • Neck, R.W. 1984. Restricted and declining non-marine mollusks of Texas. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Technical Series, 34: 1-17.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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
  • Howells, R.G. 1996a. Distributional surveys of freshwater mussels bivalves in Texas: progress report for 1994. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Management Data Series 120, Austin, Texas.

  • University of Michigan Museum of Zoology (UMMZ) Mollusks Department collections. Ann Arbor, MI.

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