Theliderma cylindrica - (Say, 1817)
Rabbitsfoot
Synonym(s): Quadrula cylindrica (Say, 1817)
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Quadrula cylindrica (Say, 1817) (TSN 80067)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.112061
Element Code: IMBIV39040
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Invertebrates - Mollusks - Freshwater Mussels
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Mollusca Bivalvia Unionoida Unionidae Theliderma
Genus Size: B - Very small genus (2-5 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 cylindrica
Taxonomic Comments: Placed in the genus Theliderma following Williams et al. (2017). Theliderma was not recognized by Turgeon et al. (1998) but was resurrected from synonymy by Graf and Cummings (2007) to accommodate a monophyletic clade of five species recognized by Turgeon et al. (1998) under Quadrula (Q. cylindrica, Q. intermedia, Q. metanevra, Q. sparsa, and Q. stapes; see Serb et al. 2003). Theliderma is the oldest available name for this clade and has T. metanevra as its type species. Williams et al. (2017) recognize placement of all five of these species in Theliderma and no longer recognize subspecies of T. cylindrica.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G3G4
Global Status Last Reviewed: 18May2009
Global Status Last Changed: 05Mar2007
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: Although widely distributed, occurrences are spotty, and this species has been eliminated from a large portion (> 50%) of its historic range, and is on many state endangered species lists as it continues to be threatened by habitat degradation, pollution, and invasive species.
Nation: United States
National Status: N3N4 (05Mar2007)

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 (S3), Georgia (SX), Illinois (S1), Indiana (SNR), Kansas (S1), Kentucky (S2), Louisiana (S1), Mississippi (S1), Missouri (S1), Nebraska (SNR), Ohio (SNR), Oklahoma (S1), Pennsylvania (S1S2), Tennessee (S3), Virginia (S2), West Virginia (SX)

Other Statuses

Implied Status under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (USESA): PS
Comments on USESA: Populations in Tennessee and Virginia (subspecies strigillata) are listed by USFWS as endangered (Federal Register, 10 January 1997). Subspecies cylindrica is listed threatened (Federal Register, 17 Sept 2013).
IUCN Red List Category: NT - Near threatened

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 20,000-200,000 square km (about 8000-80,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: This species has a "trans-Mississippian distribution" (Stansbery, 1970) and is sporadically distributed throughout the Mississipi, Ohio, Wabash, Cumberland, and Tennessee River drainages.

Quadrula cylindrica cylindrica:
Historically, the rabbitsfoot occurred in the lower Great Lakes sub-basin and Mississippi River Basin from 137 streams in 15 states including: the lower Great Lakes sub-basin, Ohio River system, Cumberland River system, Tennessee River system, lower Mississippi River sub-basin, White River system, Arkansas River system, Red River system. Reports from Nebraska, Michigan, Iowa, and New York, are questionable, at best (Butler, 2005). Harris and Gordon (1990) report it as widespread but not abundant in Arkansas noting that large populations occur in the Spring and Black river drainages while Harris and Gordon (1987) cited the species as relatively common in the middle to lower portions of the Spring River and four sites in the Black River with records for the Ouachita and Little Rivers represented by relict shells only. However, Harris et al. (1997) cited new records for the Ouachita River system and White River all with low population numbers. Rabbitsfoot populations are considered to be extant in 46 streams in 13 states and 5 Service regions including: lower Great Lakes sub-basin, Ohio River system, Cumberland River system, Tennessee River system, lower Mississippi River sub-basin, White River system, Arkansas River system, Red River system; in Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee, and perhaps Virginia (see below). Any historical occurrences in Georgia are now believed extirpated (J. Wisniewski, GA NHP, pers. comm., January 2007). The rabbitsfoot is believed extirpated from Georgia and West Virginia, while its continued existence in several other states (e.g., Alabama, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri) is extremely perilous (Butler, 2005). Quadrula cylindrica strigillata intergrades with Quadrula cylindrica cylindrica in the Clinch River in Scott County, Virginia.

Quadrula cylindrica strigillata:
Historically, it was restricted to the Clinch, Powell, and Holston drainage systems; above Norris Reservoir (Powell and Clinch Rivers) and in the fork of the Holston River in northeastern Tennessee and southwestern Virginia in 16 localities (USFWS, 2003; 2004). It still occurs in two of the three drainages but in limited areas with low populations. It has been extirpated from the entire Holston River system (USFWS, 2003; 2004). Although listed as occurring in Arkansas by USFWS (1984), the subspecies in Arkansas is actually Quadrula cylindrica cylindrica (Harris and Gordon, 1987; Harris et al., 1997). It integrated with Quadrula cylindrica cylindrica in the lower portions of the Clinch, Powell, and Holston Rivers prirot to impoundment (Parmalee and Bogan, 1998).

Area of Occupancy: 2,501 to >12,500 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments:  

Number of Occurrences: 21 - 80
Number of Occurrences Comments: Extant rabbitsfoot populations occur in the following states (with streams): Alabama (Paint Rock River, Bear Creek in Colbert Co.; and just north of state line in Tennessee River downstream of Pickwick Dam- Ahlstedt, 1996; Williams et al., 2008), Arkansas (White River, War Eagle Creek, Buffalo River, Black River, Current River, Spring River, South Fork Spring River, Strawberry River, Middle Fork Little Red River, Illinois River, Cossatot River, Ouachita River, Little Missouri River, Saline River) (Posey et al., 1996; Harris et al., 1997; Harris and Gordon, 1987; Christian, 1995; Gordon et al., 1994), Illinois (Ohio River, North Fork Vermilion River, Middle Branch North Fork Vermilion River; see Cummings and Mayer, 1997), Indiana (Ohio River, Wabash River, Eel River, St. Joseph's River- Pryor, 2005, Tippecanoe River- Cummings and Berlocher, 1990; Fisher, 2006) also weathered shells are known from Sugar Creek (east fork White River drainage) in central Indiana (Harmon, 1992), Kansas (Neosho River, Spring River where it is rare and scattered) and Couch (1997) notes it is extirpated in the Cottonwood River (Neosho River drainage) and Shoal Creek (Spring River drainage), Kentucky (Ohio River, South Fork Kentucky River, Green River, Barren River, Rough River, Red River, Tennessee River), Louisiana (Bayou Bartholomew), Mississippi (Bear Creek, Big Sunflower River, Big Black River), Missouri (Black and St. Francis Rivers, Spring River [Arkansas River system]; see Oesch, 1995), Ohio (Fish Creek, Walhonding River, Big Darby Creek, Little Darby Creek) (Watters et al., 2009), Oklahoma (Illinois River, Little River (Vaughn and Taylor, 1999; Vaughn, 2000; Galbraith et al., 2007), Glover River (Vaughn, 2000), Verdigris (Boeckman and Bidwell, 2008), Pennsylvania (Allegheny River, French Creek, Muddy Creek), and Tennessee (East Fork Stones River, Red River, Tennessee River, Elk River, Duck River) (Butler, 2005). Virginia (Clinch and Powell drainages) (Jones et al., 2001; Fraley and Ahlstedt, 2000; Hanlon et al., 2009).

Quadrula cylindrica cylindrica:
see suspecies account

Quadrula cylindrica strigillata:
see subspecies account

Population Size: 10,000 - 1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Quadrula cylindrica cylindrica:
Due to problems obtaining a unbiased and complete sample, abundance in mussels is always difficult to estimate, and no estimates of population size or abundance have been made for this species. Smith and Crabtree (2010) found this species at 7 of 32 sites (2 with recruitment) along the entire length of Pennsylvania's French Creek.

Quadrula cylindrica strigillata:
Some limited quantitative data available on population numbers, but these are not overly applicable for estimate of surviving individuals. USFWS (2004) cites "extremely low densities" of the rough rabbitsfoot in the Powell, and a decline in the Clinch, over the course of the 20-year study (Ahlstedt and Tuberville 1997; Ahlstedt, unpub. data). Taking from 432 (1979) to 542 (1999) quadrats (2.7 square feet) at 14 to 18 sites per year in the Powell, they found it at densities of 0.01 per square foot at 1 of 15 sites in both 1979 and 1988 but none during 1983, 1994, and 1999 sampling. Similar sampling of from 345 (1979) to 428 (1994 and 1999) quadrats from 11 to 14 sites in the Clinch River revealed average densities of 0.05 per square foot at 3 of 11 sites in 1979, 0.02 per square foot at 2 of 14 sites in 1994, and 0.02 per square foot at 1 of 14 sites in 1999. Limited quantitative sampling in the Powell River in Virginia by Wolcott and Neves (1990, 1994) during 1988 and 1989 revealed no specimens of the rough rabbitsfoot. According to Ahlstedt and Tuberville (1997), a prolonged drought between 1983 and 1988 at least partially accounted for the low numbers detected during 1988 sampling efforts, although stream degradation also contributed to its decline (USFWS, 2004).

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Some (13-40)
Viability/Integrity Comments: Quadrula cylindrica cylindrica:
Viability is limited in Fish Creek in a four-mile reach of stream in Ohio upstream from the confluence with the St. Joseph River. The population in the lowermost Ohio River reach has multiple age classes and is considered long-term viable. The Allegheny River population in Pennsylvania is not showing signs of recruitment. The French Creek rabbitsfoot population is considered relatively healthy and long-term viable and represents one of the better populations rangewide. It stretches from a few miles downstream of Union City Reservoir in southern Erie County to about 7 miles above the Allegheny River confluence at Franklin, a distance of roughly 75 RMs. Status of the population in Muddy Creek in western Pennsylvania is questionable. The Walhonding River population in central Ohio has limited viability. The Scioto River system, in central and south-central Ohio, only has viable populations in Big and Little Darby Creeks. The Green River in west-central Kentucky is both improving and long-term viable and probably represents the best population range-wide. Kentucky's Barren River and Rough River populations are likely not viable. The five remaining (of 15 historical) populations in the Wabash River system appear close to extirpation including that of the Wabash mainstem. Viability in the Eel River in north-central Indiana is unknown. The rabbitsfoot population is considered long-term viable at present and is currently known from a 50 RM reach (minus two main stem reservoirs) of the Tippecanoe River in north-central Indiana but at highly disjunct localities in the lower two-thirds of the river in Fulton, Pulaski, White, Carroll, and Tippecanoe Counties. The north fork of the Vermillion River in west-central Indiana exhibits low viability levels. The Cumberland River populations are all extirpated or nearly so. The east fork of the Stones River in central Tennessee has a rare declining population of doubtful viability. The Red River in southwestern Kentucky and Northwestern Tennessee has a very small population of doubtful viability. The only viable populations in the Tennessee River system are in the Duck River and lower two tailwaters on the Tennessee River. In the lower Mississippi River sub-basin, a viable population exists in the St. Francis River. In the White River system, at least three viable populations remain, primarily in the lower portions of the White, Black, and Strawberry Rivers in Arkansas. In the Arkansas River system, the rabbitsfoot shows limited viability in the Neosho and Illinois Rivers. In the Red River system, all 7 streams (of 11 historically) that the species is known from are considered small and could easily become extirpated but parts of the Little River population are considered viable (Butler, 2005).

Quadrula cylindrica strigillata:
Until relatively recently, the rough rabbitsfoot in the Scott County, Virginia, portion of the Clinch was locally abundant, particularly at Pendleton Island (Yeager and Neves, 1986; Ahlstedt, 1991). Currently, it has suffered a marked decline in Virginia but is recruiting and viable in the Tennessee portion of the river (Ahlstedt, pers. comm., 2003). Its population status elsewhere appears to be much more tenuous. The Powell River population is probably not currently viable (Ahlstedt, pers. comm., 2003). The Indian Creek population is very small and probably dependent on the main-stem population for long-term survival. The species is extirpated from entire Holston River system (USFWS, 2003; 2004).

Overall Threat Impact: Very high - high
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Much of the information below is derived from and expanded upon in USFWS (2004):
The greatest threat to this species in the Cumberlandian Region is habitat alteration. Principal causes include impoundments, channelization, pollution, and sedimentation that have altered or eliminated those habitats that are essential to the long-term viability of many riverine mussel populations. Impoundments result in the elimination of riffle and shoal habitats, disruption of a river's ecological processes, elimination of current and the covering of rocky and sand substrates by fine sediments, and alteration of downstream water quality and riverine habitat. Daily discharge fluctuations, bank sloughing, seasonal oxygen deficiencies, cold-water releases, turbulence, high silt loads, and altered host fish distribution have contributed to limited mussel recruitment and skewed demographics. Impoundments, as barriers to dispersal, contribute to the loss of local populations by blocking postextirpation recolonization. Population losses due to impoundments have probably contributed more to the decline of the Cumberlandian combshell, oyster mussel, and rough rabbitsfoot and most other Cumberlandian Region mussels than any other single factor (as the Cumberland elktoe and purple bean generally inhabit smaller rivers, impoundments have had less of an impact on them, although the impact is still significant).

The entire length of the Tennessee River and much of the Cumberland River is maintained as a navigation channel with a series of locks and dams--nine on the Tennessee River and four on the Cumberland River. Channel maintenance activities continue to cause substrate instability and alteration in these rivers and may serve to diminish what habitat remains for the recovery of riverine species.

Heavy metal-rich drainage from coal mining and associated sedimentation have adversely impacted many stream reaches, destroying mussel beds and preventing natural recolonization. Acid mine runoff may be having local impacts on the recruitment of, particularly, the Cumberland elktoe, since most of its range is within watersheds where coal mining is still occurring. Impacts associated with coal mining activities have particularly altered upper Cumberland River system streams with diverse historical mussel faunas and have been implicated in the decline of Epioblasma species, especially in the Big South Fork. Strip mining continues to threaten mussels in coal field drainages of the Cumberland Plateau with increased sedimentation loads and acid mine drainage, including Cumberland elktoe and Cumberlandian combshell populations. The Marsh Creek population of the Cumberland elktoe has also been adversely affected and is still threatened by potential spills from oil exploration activities. Coal mining activities also occur in portions of the upper Powell and Clinch River systems, primarily in Virginia. Polycyclic aromatic compounds (PAHs) are indicative of coal fines in the bottom sediments of streams. Known to be toxic to mussels and fishes, PAHs have been found at relatively high levels in the upper portions of the Clinch and Powell Rivers in Virginia.

In-stream gravel mining has been implicated in the destruction of mussel populations. Negative impacts include riparian forest clearing (e.g., mine site establishment, access roads, lowered floodplain water table); stream channel modifications (e.g., geomorphic instability, altered habitat, disrupted flow patterns [including lowered elevation of stream flow], sediment transport); water quality modifications (e.g., increased turbidity, reduced light penetration, increased temperature); macroinvertebrate population changes (e.g., elimination, habitat disruption, increased sedimentation); and changes in fish populations (e.g., impacts to spawning and nursery habitat, food web disruptions). Gravel mining activities threaten the Cumberlandian combshell populations in the Powell River and in Buck Creek, the latter stream representing one of only two remaining populations of this species in the entire Cumberland River system. Mining activities on the Elk River may have played a role in the extirpation of the oyster mussel and Cumberlandian combshell from that river.

Contaminants contained in point and nonpoint discharges can degrade water and substrate quality and adversely impact, if not destroy, mussel populations. Although chemical spills and other point sources (e.g., ditch, swale, artificial channel, drainage pipe) of contaminants may directly result in mussel mortality, widespread decreases in density and diversity may result, in part, from the subtle, pervasive effects of chronic low-level contamination. Mussels appear to be among the most intolerant organisms to heavy metals, several of which are lethal, even at relatively low levels. Among other pollutants, ammonia has been shown to be lethal to mussels. Common contaminants associated with households and urban areas, particularly those from industrial and municipal effluents, may include heavy metals, ammonia, chlorine, phosphorus, and numerous organic compounds. Nonpoint-source runoff from urban areas tends to have the highest levels of many pollutants, such as phosphorus and ammonia, when compared to other catchments. Agricultural sources of chemical contaminants are considerable and include two broad categories--nutrients and pesticides. Nutrient enrichment generally occurs as a result of runoff from livestock farms and feedlots and from fertilizers used on row crops. Pesticide runoff that commonly ends up in streams may have effects (based on studies with laboratory-tested mussels) that are particularly profound.

Numerous Cumberlandian Region streams have experienced mussel kills from toxic chemical spills and other causes. The high number of jeopardized species in the upper Tennessee River system make accidental spills a particular concern to conservationists and resource managers.

Sedimentation, including siltation runoff, has been implicated as the number one factor in water quality impairment in the United States. Specific biological impacts on mussels from excessive sediment include reduced feeding and respiratory efficiency from clogged gills, disrupted metabolic processes, reduced growth rates, increased substrate instability, limited burrowing activity, and physical smothering. Host fish/mussel interactions may be indirectly impacted by changes in stream sediment regimes through three mechanisms: fish abundance, diversity, and reproduction reduced; impedes host fish attractant mechanisms; interfere with the ability of some species' adhesive conglutinates to adhere to rock particles. Waterborne sediment is produced by the erosion of stream banks, channels, plowed fields, unpaved roads, roadside ditches, upland gullies, and other soil disturbance sites. Agricultural activities produce the most significant amount of sediment that enters streams. Silvicultural sedimentation impacts are more the result of logging roads than the actual harvesting of timber.

Developmental activities associated with urbanization (e.g., highways, building construction, infrastructure creation, recreational facilities) may contribute significant amounts of sediment and other pollutants in quantities that may be detrimental to stream habitats. With development, watersheds become more impervious, resulting in increased storm-water runoff into streams and a doubling in annual flow rates in completely urbanized streams. Impervious surfaces may reduce sediment input into streams but result in channel instability by accelerating storm-water runoff, which increases bank erosion and bed scouring. Water withdrawals for agricultural irrigation and municipal and industrial water supplies are an increasing concern for all aquatic resources and are directly correlated with expanding human populations. This impact has the potential to be a particular problem for the Cumberland elktoe population in the Big South Fork system and the oyster mussel population in the Duck River.

The alien Asian clam (Corbicula flumminea) was first reported from the Cumberlandian Region around 1959. This species has been implicated as a competitor with native mussels for resources such as food, nutrients, and space, particularly as juveniles. Densities of Asian clams are sometimes heavy in Cumberlandian Region streams, making competition with populations of some of these five species likely. Paradoxically, large, seemingly healthy, populations of unionids may coexist with Asian clams. The invasion of the nonnative zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) poses a threat to the mussel fauna of the Cumberlandian Region. Although zebra mussels are now in the Tennessee and Cumberland River systems, the extent to which they will impact native mussels is unknown. However, as zebra mussels are likely to reach higher densities in the main stems, large tributaries, and below infested reservoirs, native mussels in these areas will likely be more heavily impacted than mussels in smaller streams without upstream reservoirs. Mussel extinctions are expected as a result of the continued spread of zebra mussels in the Eastern United States. Other potential threats from alien species on native mussels include the black carp (Mylopharyngodon piceus), a native of China. If these species invade Cumberlandian Region streams, they could wreak havoc on already stressed native mussel populations. The round goby (Neogobius melanostomus) is another alien invader fish species released in the 1980s into the Great Lakes in ballast waters originating in southeastern Europe. The arrival of round gobies may therefore have important indirect effects on unionid communities through negative impacts to their host fishes.

The overall threat to this species, posed by piscine and invertebrate predators, in most instances is not thought to be significant. Although parasitism is not thought to be a significant problem in mussels, excessive trematode infestations in their gonads have been implicated in inducing mussel senescence. The harvest of Cumberlandian Region mussel species for commercial purposes is well documented (Anthony and Downing, 2001). It is doubtful, however, that this species has ever been overly exploited for pearling, pearl buttons, cultured pearls, or any other exploitative activity (USFWS, 2004).


Most of the information below is taken directly from Butler (2005) and the sources cited therein:
The chief causes of this decline are impoundments, channelization, chemical contaminants, mining, and sedimentation (Neves, 1991, 1993; Williams et al., 1993; Neves et al., 1997; Watters, 2000). Bourgeoning human populations will invariably increase the likelihood that many if not all of the factors in this section will continue to impact rabbitsfoot populations. The decline, extirpation, and extinction of mussel species is overwhelmingly attributed to habitat alteration and destruction (Neves, 1993), primarily manifest through impounding riverine systems. Historical population losses due to impoundments have probably contributed more to the decline and imperilment of the rabbitsfoot than any other single factor. Dams interrupt most of a river's ecological processes by modifying flood pulses; controlling impounded water elevations; altering water flow, sediments, nutrients, and energy inputs and outputs; increasing depth; decreasing habitat heterogeneity; decreasing stability due to subsequent sedimentation; blocking host fish passage; and isolating mussel populations from fish hosts. Impoundments also dramatically modify riffle and shoal habitats and result in the loss of mussel resources, especially in highly diverse larger rivers. The reproductive process of riverine mussels is generally disrupted by impoundments. No exception to this rule, the rabbitsfoot does not occur in reservoirs lacking riverine characteristics and is unable to successfully reproduce and recruit under reservoir conditions. It may persist and even exhibit some level of recruitment, however, in some large rivers with locks and dams if riverine habitat remains (e.g., Ohio, Tennessee Rivers). In addition, dams can also seriously alter downstream water quality and riverine habitat, and negatively impact or eliminate tailwater mussel populations. Seasonally altered flow regimes from dams, even when thermally conducive for riverine mussel populations, may also preclude successful recruitment in tailwater reaches. Large river habitat throughout nearly the entire range of this species has been impounded leaving generally short, isolated patches of vestigial habitat mostly in tailwaters below certain dams. The majority of the main stems of the Ohio, Cumberland, Tennessee River, and White Rivers and many of their largest tributaries, including reaches that were once strongholds for the rabbitsfoot, are now impounded and in many cases impacted by tailwater conditions unsuitable for this species. Dams on many streams in the Cumberlandian region have directly destroyed rabbitsfoot habitat. These include nine on the main stem Tennessee River, and others on the Holston, Little Tennessee, Clinch, Elk, and Duck Rivers, and Bear Creek). Dredging and channelization activities have profoundly altered riverine habitats nationwide. Channelization impacts a stream's physical (e.g., accelerated erosion, increased bedload, reduced depth, decreased habitat diversity, geomorphic instability, riparian canopy loss) and biological (e.g., decreased fish and mussel diversity, changed species composition and abundance, decreased biomass, and reduced growth rates) characteristics. Contaminants in point and non-point discharges can degrade water and substrate quality, and adversely impact or completely destroy mussel populations. The effects of contaminants (e.g., metals, chlorine, ammonia) are especially profound on juvenile mussels. Heavy metal-rich drainage from coal mining and associated sedimentation has adversely impacted many drainages with rabbitsfoot populations, including portions of the upper Ohio River system in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia; the lower Ohio River system in eastern Illinois; the Rough River drainage in western Kentucky; and the upper Cumberland River system in Kentucky and Tennessee. Various mining activities take place in other systems that have affected or potentially continue to impact rabbitsfoot populations. Negative impacts associated with gravel mining include stream channel modifications (e.g., altered habitat, disrupted flow patterns, sediment transport), water quality modifications (e.g., increased turbidity, reduced light penetration, increased temperature), macroinvertebrate population changes (e.g., elimination, habitat disruption, increased sedimentation), and changes in fish populations (e.g., impacts to spawning and nursery habitat, food web disruptions). Sedimentation, including siltation, has been implicated in the decline of stream mussel populations. Many rabbitsfoot streams in the Midwest and Southeast have increased turbidity levels due to siltation. It produces conglutinates that appear to function in attracting visual-feeding host fishes. Such a reproductive strategy depends on clear water when mussels are releasing glochidia. Agricultural activities produce the most significant amount of sediment that enters streams. Developmental activities may impact streams where adequate streamside buffers are not maintained and erosion of impacted land is allowed to freely enter streams. These may include highway construction, building construction, general infrastructure (e.g., utilities, sewer systems), and recreation facilities (e.g., golf courses). Water withdrawals for agricultural irrigation, municipal, and industrial water supplies are an increasing concern for all aquatic resources and are directly correlated with expanding human populations. This impact has the potential to be another (in addition to increased level of general development) problem for the substantial rabbitsfoot population in the Duck River. Numerous streams having rabbitsfoot populations were actively worked by "pearlers" (e.g., Little Miami, Cumberland, Obey, Stones, Tennessee, French Broad, Clinch, Elk, Duck, St. Francis, White, Buffalo, Black, Ouachita Rivers; Caney Fork). However, the rabbitsfoot was never a valuable shell for the commercial pearl button industry nor the cultured pearl industry, and hence these activities were probably not significant factors in its decline. The alien species that may pose the most significant threat is the zebra mussel, Dreissena polymorpha (Pallas, 1771). The zebra mussel invasion poses a threat to mussel faunas in many regions, and species extinctions are expected as a result of its continued spread in the eastern United States (Ricciardi et al., 1998). Overlapping much of the current range of the rabbitsfoot, zebra mussels have been detected and/or are established in rabbitsfoot streams (e.g., Ohio, Allegheny, Green, Tennessee, White Rivers; French, Bear Creeks). Populations appear to be maintained primarily in streams with barge navigation. The Asian clam, Corbicula fluminea (Müller, 1774), has spread throughout the Mississippi River Basin since its introduction into the basin in the mid-1900s. This species has been implicated as a competitor with native mussels, particularly juveniles, for resources such as food, nutrients, and space (Neves and Widlak, 1987, Leff et al., 1990). According to Strayer (1999), dense populations of Asian clams may ingest large numbers of unionid sperm, glochidia, and newly-metamorphosed juveniles. He also thought they actively disturb sediments, so dense populations may reduce habitat for juvenile native mussels. Periodic dieoffs of Asian clams may produce enough ammonia and consume enough DO to kill native mussels (Strayer, 1999). Native to China, the black carp (Mylopharyngodon piceus) is a potential threat to the rabbitsfoot (Strayer, 1999). The round goby (Neogobius melanostomus) is another alien invader fish species released in the 1980s into the Great Lakes in ballast waters originating in southeastern Europe (Strayer, 1999). The harvest of Cumberlandian Region mussel species for commercial purposes is well documented (Downing and Downing, 2001). It is doubtful, however, that this species has ever been overly exploited for pearling, pearl buttons, cultured pearls, or any other exploitative activity (USFWS, 2004).

Short-term Trend: Decline of 50-70%
Short-term Trend Comments: Quadrula cylindrica cylindrica:
Based on historical and current data, the rabbitsfoot is declining rangewide and is now extant only in 46 of 137 streams of historical occurrence, representing a 66% decline. Further, in the streams where it is extant, populations with few exceptions are highly fragmented and restricted to short reaches. Realistically, much more than 66% of the species' historically available habitat no longer supports populations. Total range reduction and overall population loss for the rabbitsfoot realistically approaches--if not exceeds--90%. Ten of the 15 states from which the rabbitsfoot is historically known consider it endangered (Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Ohio, and Pennsylvania), threatened (Kentucky and Tennessee), special concern (Arkansas), or have assigned it uncategorized conservation status (Alabama). The rabbitsfoot is believed extirpated from Georgia and West Virginia. Five streams in addition to a canal historically had populations in the lower Great Lakes sub-basin, but only a single stream population remains today. The species has experienced a 75% decline in the Ohio River system. The compilation of distributional information herein abundantly indicates a severe reduction in range of the rabbitsfoot over the past 40 years (Butler, 2005).

Quadrula cylindrica strigillata (from USFWS, 2004):
Populations have and continue to decline dramatically. Qualitative and quantitative surveys since 1979 indicate severe losses in both numbers of individuals and occurrences. Until relatively recently, the rough rabbitsfoot in the Scott County, Virginia, portion of the Clinch was locally abundant, particularly at Pendleton Island (Yeager and Neves, 1986; Ahlstedt, 1991). Currently, it has suffered a marked decline in Virginia but is recruiting and viable in the Tennessee portion of the river (Ahlstedt, pers. comm., 2003). Its population status elsewhere appears to be much more tenuous. The Powell River population is probably not currently viable (Ahlstedt, pers. comm., 2003). The Indian Creek population is very small and probably dependent on the main-stem population for long-term survival. The species is extirpated from entire Holston River system (USFWS, 2003; 2004).

Long-term Trend: Decline of 50-70%
Long-term Trend Comments: Quadrula cylindrica cylindrica:
The historical museum data (~pre-1980) indicates that good rabbitsfoot populations occurred in at least the Ohio River, Walhonding River, Big Sandy River, Scioto River, Olentangy River, Nolin River, Wabash River, North Fork Vermilion River, Obey River, Tennessee River, White River, Black River, Spring River, Strawberry River, Illinois River, Glover River, and Cossatot River. Based on information gleaned from museum and historical literature records, a potential argument can be made for localized but not overall abundance of this species historically. Populations of the rabbitsfoot were last reported decades ago (~40+ years) from about one-third of the streams where it historically occurred (e.g., Maumee River, St. Marys River, Monongahela River, West Fork River, Beaver River, Pymatuning Creek, Mahoning River, Little Kanawha River, Big Sandy River, Levisa Fork, Scioto River, Olentangy River, Whetstone Creek, Big Walnut Creek, Alum Creek, Russell Creek, Barren River, Drakes Creek, West Fork Drakes Creek, Middle Fork Vermillion River, Salt Fork Vermillion River, White River, East Fork White River, Driftwood River, Big Blue River, Flatrock River, West Fork White River, Rockcastle River, Big South Fork, Beaver Creek, Caney Fork, Stones River, West Fork Stones River, Harpeth River, Holston River, Clinch River, Sequatchie River, Larkin Fork, Flint River, North Fork White River, Verdigris River, Fall River, Blue River, Mountain Fork Little River). In some streams the only records known represent archeological specimens (e.g., Little Pigeon River, Little Tennessee River, Yazoo River). The compilation of distributional information herein abundantly indicates a severe reduction in range of the rabbitsfoot over the past 40 years. Based on historical and current data, the rabbitsfoot is declining rangewide and is now extant only in 46 of 137 streams of historical occurrence, representing a 66% decline. Further, in the streams where it is extant, populations with few exceptions are highly fragmented and restricted to short reaches. Any historical occurrences in Georgia are now believed extirpated (J. Wisniewski, GA NHP, pers. comm., January 2007). Realistically, much more than 66% of the species' historically available habitat no longer supports populations. Total range reduction and overall population loss for the rabbitsfoot realistically approaches--if not exceeds--90% (Butler, 2005).

Quadrula cylindrica strigillata:
Populations in the lower Clinch, Powell, and Holston River systems were extirpated by reservoirs (USFWS, 2004).

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable
Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: Quadrula cylindrica cylindrica:
The majority of the remaining rabbitsfoot populations are generally small and geographically isolated. The factor that most noticeably results in population isolation is impoundment but may also include stream reaches heavily impacted by toxic effluents and contaminated sediments. The patchy distributional pattern of populations in short river reaches makes them much more susceptible to extirpation due to the lack of recolonization from other populations. Single catastrophic events, such as toxic chemical spills, could cause the extirpation of small, isolated rabbitsfoot occurrences. The likelihood is high that some rabbitsfoot populations are below the effective population size (EPS) (Soulé, 1980) required to maintain long-term genetic and population viability. Recruitment reduction or failure is a potential problem for many small rabbitsfoot populations rangewide, a potential condition exacerbated by its reduced range and increasingly isolated populations. Without the level of genetic interchange the species experienced historically (i.e., without barriers such as reservoirs), small isolated populations that may now be comprised predominantly of adult specimens could be slowly dying out (Butler, 2005).

Quadrula cylindrica strigillata:
Without the level of genetic interchange these species experienced historically, many small and isolated populations that are now comprised predominantly of adult specimens may be slowly dying out due to various factors. This may, in part, account for the relatively recent demise of numerous tributary populations. Even given the improbable absence of the impacts from current and existing threats, smaller isolated populations of this species may be lost to the devastating consequences of below-threshold effective population size (EPS). Once-sizable populations of many Cumberlandian mussel species occurred throughout significant portions of the main stems of the large rivers and tributary systems comprising the Cumberlandian Region. This was particularly true for the Cumberlandian combshell and oyster mussel. Historically, there were no natural absolute barriers to genetic interchange among their tributary subpopulations and those of their host fishes (with the notable exception of Cumberland Falls. Without the level of genetic interchange these species experienced historically (because of anthropogenic threats), many small and isolated populations that are now comprised predominantly of adult specimens may be slowly dying out due to various factors (USFWS, 2004).

Environmental Specificity: Narrow. Specialist or community with key requirements common.
Environmental Specificity Comments: The decline in the overall range of this species suggests that it is not very tolerant to poor water quality. The sites where it still occurrs are usually high quality streams with little disturbance to the substrate or degradation of water quality. This taxon requires a permanent source of clean water; sand, gravel, or cobble substrate free of filamentous algae and fine sediments; and the presence of host fish to survive and reproduce (Gordon, 1991; USFWS, 2003; 2004). Glochidia from this species are only known to transform on only 3 fish species (Yeager and Neves, 1986).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: Few large viable populations of the rabbitsfoot remain. In addition to focusing efforts on elucidating factors contributing to its decline, research should focus upon various factors that contribute to the maintenance of sizable healthy populations. Additional survey work in parts of its historical range may be warrented, but most of the populations appear to be well documented. Periodic surveys of known populations should be done to monitor the status of the remaining populations. An inventory of existing museum records should be compiled to provide information on historical sites and potential new ones. A set of biological, ecological, and habitat parameters will need to be developed to determine if an extant rabbitsfoot population will be suitable for species augmentation and rabbitsfoot reintroduction. A rangewide study on the rabbitsfoot should be conducted to determine if there are any populations that may be taxonomically or ecologically distinct and/or in need of recognition for conservation and recovery purposes.

Protection Needs: Management: preserve existing populations and allow mussels to re-invade historical ranges and re-introduce populations. Seeking funding from various sources will be crucial in the recovery of the rabbitsfoot. Several nonessential experimental populations (under Section 10(j) of the Act) of federally listed species are now in various stages of planning and implementation in some tailwaters. Although current reintroduction efforts in TVA tailwaters have focused almost entirely on listed species, activities are expanding to include other imperiled taxa such as the rabbitsfoot. The overall conservation status of the rabbitsfoot would improve if more extant populations could be maintained at viable levels or if populations were to become re-established where extirpated. Certain extant rabbitsfoot populations would benefit from population augmentation. The species would clearly benefit from population reintroduction into select streams and stream reaches with appropriate habitat in its historical range. Augmentation and reintroduction efforts can be achieved through various translocation options, namely the direct release of hatchery-reared juveniles, infected host fishes, or adult mussels. Dam removal has become an increasingly common management option in restoring riverine habitat (e.g., http://www.dnr.state.oh.us/water/dsafety/lowhead_dams/removed_dams_list.htm). This tool should be considered for many dams if issues regarding the removal of bed load sediments and potential contaminants are thoroughly addressed during the planning stage and where dams are not thought to provide stabilizing effects on downstream mussel habitat.

Distribution
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Global Range: (20,000-200,000 square km (about 8000-80,000 square miles)) This species has a "trans-Mississippian distribution" (Stansbery, 1970) and is sporadically distributed throughout the Mississipi, Ohio, Wabash, Cumberland, and Tennessee River drainages.

Quadrula cylindrica cylindrica:
Historically, the rabbitsfoot occurred in the lower Great Lakes sub-basin and Mississippi River Basin from 137 streams in 15 states including: the lower Great Lakes sub-basin, Ohio River system, Cumberland River system, Tennessee River system, lower Mississippi River sub-basin, White River system, Arkansas River system, Red River system. Reports from Nebraska, Michigan, Iowa, and New York, are questionable, at best (Butler, 2005). Harris and Gordon (1990) report it as widespread but not abundant in Arkansas noting that large populations occur in the Spring and Black river drainages while Harris and Gordon (1987) cited the species as relatively common in the middle to lower portions of the Spring River and four sites in the Black River with records for the Ouachita and Little Rivers represented by relict shells only. However, Harris et al. (1997) cited new records for the Ouachita River system and White River all with low population numbers. Rabbitsfoot populations are considered to be extant in 46 streams in 13 states and 5 Service regions including: lower Great Lakes sub-basin, Ohio River system, Cumberland River system, Tennessee River system, lower Mississippi River sub-basin, White River system, Arkansas River system, Red River system; in Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee, and perhaps Virginia (see below). Any historical occurrences in Georgia are now believed extirpated (J. Wisniewski, GA NHP, pers. comm., January 2007). The rabbitsfoot is believed extirpated from Georgia and West Virginia, while its continued existence in several other states (e.g., Alabama, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri) is extremely perilous (Butler, 2005). Quadrula cylindrica strigillata intergrades with Quadrula cylindrica cylindrica in the Clinch River in Scott County, Virginia.

Quadrula cylindrica strigillata:
Historically, it was restricted to the Clinch, Powell, and Holston drainage systems; above Norris Reservoir (Powell and Clinch Rivers) and in the fork of the Holston River in northeastern Tennessee and southwestern Virginia in 16 localities (USFWS, 2003; 2004). It still occurs in two of the three drainages but in limited areas with low populations. It has been extirpated from the entire Holston River system (USFWS, 2003; 2004). Although listed as occurring in Arkansas by USFWS (1984), the subspecies in Arkansas is actually Quadrula cylindrica cylindrica (Harris and Gordon, 1987; Harris et al., 1997). It integrated with Quadrula cylindrica cylindrica in the lower portions of the Clinch, Powell, and Holston Rivers prirot to impoundment (Parmalee and Bogan, 1998).

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 AL, AR, GAextirpated, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MO, MS, NE, OH, OK, PA, TN, VA, WVextirpated

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
AL Colbert (01033), Franklin (01059)*, Jackson (01071), Lauderdale (01077)*, Madison (01089), Marshall (01095), Morgan (01103)*
AR Arkansas (05001), Ashley (05003), Benton (05007), Bradley (05011), Calhoun (05013), Carroll (05015), Clark (05019), Clay (05021), Cleveland (05025), Drew (05043), Fulton (05049), Grant (05053), Hot Spring (05059), Independence (05063), Izard (05065), Jackson (05067), Lawrence (05075), Little River (05081), Madison (05087), Marion (05089), Monroe (05095), Montgomery (05097), Newton (05101), Ouachita (05103), Prairie (05117), Randolph (05121), Searcy (05129), Sevier (05133), Sharp (05135), Stone (05137), Van Buren (05141), Washington (05143), White (05145), Woodruff (05147)
IL Massac (17127)*, Pulaski (17153), Vermilion (17183)
IN Allen (18003), Bartholomew (18005), Carroll (18015), Cass (18017), Daviess (18027)*, De Kalb (18033), Delaware (18035), Fountain (18045), Fulton (18049), Gibson (18051), Grant (18053), Greene (18055), Hamilton (18057)*, Huntington (18069)*, Jackson (18071)*, Johnson (18081), Knox (18083), Kosciusko (18085), Lawrence (18093), Madison (18095), Marion (18097)*, Marshall (18099), Martin (18101), Miami (18103), Monroe (18105), Morgan (18109), Owen (18119), Parke (18121), Perry (18123), Pike (18125)*, Posey (18129)*, Pulaski (18131), Shelby (18145), Spencer (18147), Starke (18149), Sullivan (18153)*, Tippecanoe (18157), Vanderburgh (18163), Vermillion (18165), Vigo (18167)*, Wabash (18169), Warren (18171), Wells (18179), White (18181)
KS Allen (20001), Cherokee (20021), Lyon (20111), Neosho (20133), Woodson (20207)
KY Adair (21001), Allen (21003)*, Ballard (21007), Barren (21009)*, Campbell (21037)*, Clay (21051), Cumberland (21057)*, Daviess (21059), Edmonson (21061), Floyd (21071)*, Grayson (21085)*, Green (21087), Greenup (21089)*, Hancock (21091), Hardin (21093)*, Harrison (21097)*, Hart (21099), Henderson (21101)*, Jefferson (21111)*, Kenton (21117)*, Larue (21123)*, Laurel (21125)*, Lewis (21135)*, Livingston (21139), Logan (21141), Lyon (21143)*, Marshall (21157), McCracken (21145), McCreary (21147)*, Monroe (21171)*, Nelson (21179)*, Ohio (21183), Owsley (21189), Pendleton (21191)*, Pulaski (21199)*, Rockcastle (21203)*, Russell (21207)*, Spencer (21215)*, Taylor (21217), Warren (21227), Wayne (21231)*
LA Morehouse (22067)
MO Butler (29023)*, Jasper (29097), Madison (29123), Newton (29145), Stoddard (29207)*, Wayne (29223)
MS Hinds (28049), Sunflower (28133), Tishomingo (28141), Warren (28149)
OH Adams (39001)*, Ashland (39005), Coshocton (39031), Defiance (39039)*, Delaware (39041)*, Fairfield (39045), Franklin (39049), Knox (39083), Madison (39097), Muskingum (39119), Pickaway (39129), Putnam (39137), Union (39159), Williams (39171)
OK Cherokee (40021), Johnston (40069)*, McCurtain (40089), Ottawa (40115)*, Rogers (40131)*
PA Allegheny (42003)*, Armstrong (42005)*, Beaver (42007)*, Crawford (42039), Erie (42049), Fayette (42051)*, Greene (42059)*, Lawrence (42073)*, Mercer (42085), Venango (42121), Warren (42123), Washington (42125)*, Westmoreland (42129)*
TN Bedford (47003)*, Claiborne (47025), DeKalb (47041)*, Greene (47059)*, Hancock (47067), Hardin (47071), Hickman (47081), Humphreys (47085), Lawrence (47099), Lincoln (47103), Marshall (47117), Maury (47119), Montgomery (47125), Perry (47135), Putnam (47141)*, Roane (47145)*, Robertson (47147), Rutherford (47149), Sevier (47155)*, Smith (47159)*
VA Lee (51105), Russell (51167), Scott (51169), Tazewell (51185), Wise (51195)*
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
03 Upper Tombigbee (03160101)*
04 St. Joseph (04100003)+, Upper Maumee (04100005)+*, Auglaize (04100007)+
05 Middle Allegheny-Tionesta (05010003)+, French (05010004)+, Middle Allegheny-Redbank (05010006)+*, Lower Monongahela (05020005)+*, Upper Ohio (05030101)+*, Shenango (05030102)+, Mahoning (05030103)+*, Beaver (05030104)+*, Connoquenessing (05030105)*, Upper Ohio-Wheeling (05030106)*, Little Muskingum-Middle Island (05030201)*, Upper Ohio-Shade (05030202)*, Hocking (05030204)+, Tuscarawas (05040001)*, Mohican (05040002)+, Walhonding (05040003)+, Muskingum (05040004)+, Upper Scioto (05060001)+, Lower Scioto (05060002), Lower Levisa (05070203)+*, Little Scioto-Tygarts (05090103)+*, Ohio Brush-Whiteoak (05090201)+*, Middle Ohio-Laughery (05090203)+*, Licking (05100101)+*, South Fork Licking (05100102)+*, South Fork Kentucky (05100203)+, Lower Kentucky (05100205)*, Upper Green (05110001)+, Barren (05110002)+, Rough (05110004)+, Lower Green (05110005)+*, Upper Wabash (05120101)+, Salamonie (05120102)+*, Mississinewa (05120103)+, Eel (05120104)+, 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)+, Lower East Fork White (05120208)+, Rockcastle (05130102)+*, Upper Cumberland-Lake Cumberland (05130103)+*, South Fork Cumberland (05130104)+*, Caney (05130108)+*, Stones (05130203)+, Lower Cumberland (05130205)+, Red (05130206)+, Silver-Little Kentucky (05140101)+, Salt (05140102)+*, Rolling Fork (05140103)+*, Lower Ohio-Little Pigeon (05140201)+, Highland-Pigeon (05140202)+, Lower Ohio-Bay (05140203)*, Lower Ohio (05140206)+
06 North Fork Holston (06010101)+, Holston (06010104), Pigeon (06010106)*, Lower French Broad (06010107)+*, Nolichucky (06010108)+*, Watts Bar Lake (06010201)*, Lower Little Tennessee (06010204)*, Upper Clinch (06010205)+, Powell (06010206)+, Lower Clinch (06010207)+*, Middle Tennessee-Chickamauga (06020001), Sequatchie (06020004), Guntersville Lake (06030001)+*, Wheeler Lake (06030002)+, Upper Elk (06030003)+, Lower Elk (06030004), Pickwick Lake (06030005)+, Bear (06030006)+, Lower Tennessee-Beech (06040001)+, Upper Duck (06040002)+, Lower Duck (06040003)+, Buffalo (06040004)+, Lower Tennessee (06040006)+
07 Cache (07140108)*
08 Lower Mississippi-Memphis (08010100)+*, Upper St. Francis (08020202)+, Lower St. Francis (08020203)+, Lower White-Bayou Des Arc (08020301)+, Lower White (08020303)+, Little Tallahatchie (08030201)*, Tallahatchie (08030202)*, Coldwater (08030204)*, Yalobusha (08030205)*, Upper Yazoo (08030206)*, Big Sunflower (08030207)+, Ouachita Headwaters (08040101)+, Upper Ouachita (08040102)+, Little Missouri (08040103)+, Lower Ouachita-Smackover (08040201)+, Lower Ouachita-Bayou De Loutre (08040202), Upper Saline (08040203)+, Lower Saline (08040204)+, Bayou Bartholomew (08040205)+, Upper Big Black (08060201), Lower Big Black (08060202)+, Bayou Pierre (08060203)*, Coles Creek (08060204)*
11 Beaver Reservoir (11010001)+, Bull Shoals Lake (11010003)*, Middle White (11010004)+, Buffalo (11010005)+, Current (11010008)+, Lower Black (11010009)+, Spring (11010010)+, Strawberry (11010012)+, Upper White-Village (11010013)+, Little Red (11010014)+, Upper Verdigris (11070101)*, Fall (11070102)*, Middle Verdigris (11070103)*, Elk (11070104)*, Lower Verdigris (11070105)+, Neosho headwaters (11070201)+, Upper Cottonwood (11070202)*, Lower Cottonwood (11070203)*, Upper Neosho (11070204)+, Middle Neosho (11070205)+, Lake O' the Cherokees (11070206)+*, Spring (11070207)+, Illinois (11110103)+, Blue (11140102)+*, Muddy Boggy (11140103)*, Kiamichi (11140105), Pecan-Waterhole (11140106)+, Upper Little (11140107)+, Mountain Fork (11140108)+*, Lower Little (11140109)+
+ 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 highly distinctive mussel with an elongate shell, rectangular in shape with pustules and chevron markings.
General Description: SHELL: rectangular, elongate (about 3 times as long as high), thick, and compressed to moderately inflated. Anterior end rounded, posterior end squared or truncated. Dorsal and ventral margins parallel. Umbos low, only slightly elevated above the hinge line. Beak sculpture consists of two rows of knobs or ridges that continue down the lateral surface of the shell. Surface of the shell usually rough, with numerous tubercles on the anterior end and a series of large pustules or knobs along the posterior ridge. Periostracum green or light brown (darker in older shells) with yellow zig-zag or chevron shaped markings on the shell. Length to 5 inches. Pseudocardinal teeth serrated and well developed; two in the left valve, one in the right. Lateral teeth very long and straight; two in the left valve, one in the right. Beak cavity deep. Nacre pearly white, iridescent posteriorly (Cummings and Mayer, 1992).
Diagnostic Characteristics: Bogan and Parmalee (1983, p 66-7) list the following distinguishing characteristics. "The form Q. C. STRIGILLATA is much more compressed than typical Q. C. CYLINDRICA... In Q. C. STRIGILLATA the posterior ridge is lower and less distinct."
Reproduction Comments: Similar to other species of Quadrula, the rabbitsfoot utilizes all four gills as a marsupium for its glochidia (Howard, 1914). It is thought to be a short-term brooder, with an inferred brooding period from May to July (Parmalee and Bogan, 1998), based at least partially on the work of Yeager and Neves (1986) on the rough rabbitsfoot. Most members of Quadrula are gravid from May to July (Heard and Guckert, 1970). The species is tachytictic and spawns and releases glochidia from May to July. Further host fish confirmations include Cyprinella galactura (whitetail shiner), Cyprinella spiloptera (spotfin shiner), and Hybopsis amblops (bigeye chub) (Yeager and Neves, 1986; Roe, 2002). Hosts for the rough rabbitsfoot (Quadrula cylindrica strigillata) have been investigated for two populations west of the Mississippi River. In the Black River, Arkansas, the subspecies was gravid in late May and used blacktail shiner (Cyprinella venusta), a southern species (Barnhart and Baird, 2000). Spring River (Arkansas River system), Kansas and Missouri, specimens were gravid in late July and early August and used spotfin shiner (Cyprinella spiloptera) and rosyface shiner (Notropis rubellus) as hosts (C. Barnhart, SWMSU; N.L. Eckert, VDGIF, pers. comm., 2005, cited in Butler, 2005).
Ecology Comments: Refer to the General Freshwater Mussel ESA for general ecology of mussels.
Habitat Type: Freshwater
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Riverine Habitat(s): BIG RIVER, CREEK, MEDIUM RIVER, Moderate gradient, Riffle
Special Habitat Factors: Benthic
Habitat Comments: According to Gordon and Layzer (1989) the typical habitat for this species is small to medium rivers with moderate to swift currents, and in smaller streams it inhabits bars or gravel and cobble close to the fast current. It is found in medium to large rivers in sand and gravel (Cummings and Mayer, 1992). It has been found in depths up to 3 m (Parmalee, 1967). Despite their streamlined appearance, specimens are more often found fully exposed lying on their sides on top of the substrate (Watters, 1988).
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: Populations in Tennessee and Virginia (subspecies strigillata) are listed by USFWS as Endangered (Federal Register, 10 January 1997).
Restoration Potential: The broad, but sporadic, distribution of Q. C. CYLINDRICA in smaller streams suggests that at least some populations may be saved. Transplanting may be feasible in some areas. Without careful monitoring, Q. C. STRIGILLATA may be lost.
Preserve Selection & Design Considerations: Refer to the General Freshwater Mussel ESA.
Management Requirements: Refer to the General Freshwater Mussel ESA.
Monitoring Requirements: Refer to the General Freshwater Mussel ESA.
Management Research Needs: Refer to the General Freshwater Mussel ESA.
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 additional host species across the range of the rabbitsfoot be ascertained. Yeager and Neves (1986) reported the spotfin shiner, Cyprinella spiloptera; Whitetail shiner, Cyprinella galactura and the bigeye chub, Hybopisis ambplops as hosts for Quadrula cylindrica strigillata. 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. Much research is needed to determine the sensitivity of each rabbitsfoot life history stage to various contaminants, particularly pharmaceutical chemicals.
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: 18May2009
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Cordeiro, J. (2009); Watters, G. Thomas; Cummings, K.S. (1998)
Management Information Edition Date: 01Aug1986
Management Information Edition Author: Watters, G. Thomas
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 05Mar2007
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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"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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