Villosa constricta - (Conrad, 1838)
Notched Rainbow
Synonym(s): Venustaconcha constricta (Conrad, 1838)
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Villosa constricta (Conrad, 1838) (TSN 80206)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.109267
Element Code: IMBIV47040
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Invertebrates - Mollusks - Freshwater Mussels
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Mollusca Bivalvia Unionoida Unionidae Villosa
Genus Size: C - Small genus (6-20 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: Villosa constricta
Taxonomic Comments: This database follows Williams et al. (2017). Watters (2018) limits true Villosa to the extreme southeastern United States and places this species in the genus Venustaconcha, here maintained as a synonym.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G3
Global Status Last Reviewed: 23Dec2011
Global Status Last Changed: 25Oct1998
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: Fewer than 100 populations are expected. Many of these are small and highly vulnerable to extirpation. There is a significant ongoing decline in the health of many populations over a majority of the species' range, however overall range extent remains unchanged. Despite a somewhat limited range, this species appears to be maintaining secure populatins throughout its range extent.
Nation: United States
National Status: N3 (25Oct1998)

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 North Carolina (S3), South Carolina (S1), Virginia (S3)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern
American Fisheries Society Status: Special Concern (01Jan1993)

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 5000-20,000 square km (about 2000-8000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: It occurs from the James River Basin in Virginia to the Catawba River Basin in North and South Carolina. Bogan and Alderman (2004) list the South Carolina distribution as the Lower Pee Dee and Cooper-Santee River basins (at North Carolina border only).

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

Number of Occurrences: 21 - 80
Number of Occurrences Comments: Extant populations exist in all river basins within the species' historical range. Surveys by A. Bogan and others during the past decade have documented extant populations in 12 named lotic habitats in Virginia, more than 30 named lotic habitats in North Carolina, and 5 named lotic habitats in South Carolina. Populations are now largely restricted to headwater and tributary creeks and small rivers. In North Carolina, it is found in the Catawba, Pee Dee, Cape Fear, Neuse, Pamlico, Roanoke, and Chowan River basins (Bogan, 2002) in 25 counties (LeGrand et al., 2006). In South Carolina, it is found in the Pee Dee and Cooper-Santee River basins (Bogan and Alderman, 2004). Alderman (2006) documented it in tributaries of Lake Murray in South Carolina. In a survey of 44 sites in the Neuse River basin above Falls Lake in Orange, Durham, Person, Granville, and Wake Cos., North Carolina, Eads et al. (2006) found the species at 24 sites. Documentation for Virginia includes the James River basin in Rockbridge (Burch, 2002).

Population Size: 2500 - 10,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Many populations have small ranges, are isolated, and have low abundances. In a survey of 44 sites in the Neuse River basin above Falls Lake in Orange, Durham, Person, Granville, and Wake Cos., North Carolina, Eads et al. (2006) found the species at 24 sites and numbers ranged from 1 to 54 individuals (190 total; median 3.5 per site).

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Some (13-40)
Viability/Integrity Comments: In a survey of 44 sites in the Neuse River basin above Falls Lake in Orange, Durham, Person, Granville, and Wake Cos., North Carolina, Eads et al. (2006) found the species at 24 sites where it was widespread across teh study area and was the second most abundant species next to Elliptio complanata in the upper Neuse basin. However, Eads et al. (2006) rarely found it locally abundant with more than 10 individuals at only 5 sites and young individuals at only 12 sites (many sites with only older individuals).

Overall Threat Impact Comments: Urbanization and its associated point and nonpoint sources of pollution, reservoir construction, agriculture, and logging practices are reducing habitat quality in many areas within the species' range.

Short-term Trend: Decline of 10-30%
Short-term Trend Comments: This species is being lost from our larger rivers. It now occupies tributary and headwater creeks and rivers within its historical range; however, populations are patchily distributed and have low densities in many areas. Continuing declines in many populations are expected. In Virginia it has declined in abundance and distribution during the last several decades (Neves 1991).

Long-term Trend: Decline of 30-50%
Long-term Trend Comments: Fewer than 100 populations are expected. Many of these are small and highly vulnerable to extirpation. There is a significant ongoing decline in the health of many populations over a majority of the species' range. There is a long-term concern that this species is vulnerable to extinction.

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable

Environmental Specificity: Narrow. Specialist or community with key requirements common.
Environmental Specificity Comments: This species normally occupies habitats within the Fall Line, Piedmont, and Mountains of Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Usually, coarse substrates, including gravel, cobble, boulder, and bedrock, are found as macrohabitat features (Johnson, 1970). However, individual notched rainbows may be found in diverse microhabitats, ranging from clay to silt to more coarse substrates. Usually, relief is sufficient to maintain relatively silt free habitats in the general creek or river reaches supporting populations of notched rainbows. Healthy populations of notched rainbow are usually associated with creeks and rivers with few significant point or nonpoint sources of pollution. In the Neuse River basin in North Carolina, Eads et al. (2007) found the species tended to occur in coarse sand and sand/gravel mixtures in areas with some current.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: All known populations of this species need to be carefully monitored. Within the range, unsurveyed potential habitat needs to be surveyed.

Distribution
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Global Range: (5000-20,000 square km (about 2000-8000 square miles)) It occurs from the James River Basin in Virginia to the Catawba River Basin in North and South Carolina. Bogan and Alderman (2004) list the South Carolina distribution as the Lower Pee Dee and Cooper-Santee River basins (at North Carolina border only).

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 NC, SC, VA

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
NC Alamance (37001), Alexander (37003), Anson (37007), Burke (37023), Cabarrus (37025), Caswell (37033), Catawba (37035), Chatham (37037), Davidson (37057)*, Duplin (37061), Durham (37063), Edgecombe (37065), Franklin (37069), Granville (37077), Guilford (37081), Halifax (37083), Harnett (37085), Johnston (37101), Lee (37105)*, McDowell (37111), Mecklenburg (37119), Montgomery (37123), Moore (37125), Nash (37127), Orange (37135), Person (37145), Randolph (37151), Richmond (37153), Rockingham (37157), Rowan (37159)*, Stanly (37167), Stokes (37169), Union (37179), Vance (37181), Wake (37183), Warren (37185), Wilson (37195)
SC Chesterfield (45025), Lancaster (45057)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
02 Upper James (02080201), Maury (02080202), Middle James-Buffalo (02080203), Rivanna (02080204), Middle James-Willis (02080205)
03 Upper Roanoke (03010101), Middle Roanoke (03010102)+, Upper Dan (03010103)+, Lower Dan (03010104)+, Banister (03010105), Roanoke Rapids (03010106), Nottoway (03010201), Meheriin (03010204), Upper Tar (03020101)+, Fishing (03020102)+, Lower Tar (03020103)+, Upper Neuse (03020201)+, Contentnea (03020203)+, Haw (03030002)+, Deep (03030003)+, Upper Cape Fear (03030004)+, Northeast Cape Fear (03030007)+, Lower Yadkin (03040103)+, Upper Pee Dee (03040104)+, Rocky, North Carolina, (03040105)+, Lower Pee Dee (03040201)+, Lynches (03040202)+, Upper Catawba (03050101)+, Lower Catawba (03050103)+, Saluda (03050109)
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: a small freshwater mussel
Reproduction Comments: Watters et al. (1999) proposed (lab infestation but metamorphosis not observed) the following hosts: rock bass (Ambloplites rupestris), Siamese fighting fish (Beta splendens), central stoneroller (Campostoma anomalum), goldfish (Carrasius auratus), tessellated darter (Etheostoma olmstedi), redbreast sunfish (Lepomis auritus), longear sunfish (Lepomis megalotis), largemouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu), sand shiner (Notropis lundibundus), logperch (Percina caprodes), yellow perch (Percina flavescens), blackside darter (Percina maculata), and bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana). Eads et al. (2006) found gravid females in the Neuse basin in North Carolina in May, June, July and August. Eads et al. (2006) also conducted host suitability studies on 16 fish species (including some proposed as potential hosts by Watters et al., 1999, such as largemouth bass, and redbreast sunfish) and determined that only Etheostoma flabellare (fantail darter) was a suitable glochidial host but because this fish is rare in the Cape Fear basin where Villosa constricta is abundant, other host(s) are hypothesized.
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: This species normally occupies habitats within the Fall Line, Piedmont, and Mountains of Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Usually, coarse substrates, including gravel, cobble, boulder, and bedrock, are found as macrohabitat features (Johnson, 1970). However, individual notched rainbows may be found in diverse microhabitats, ranging from clay to silt to more coarse substrates. Usually, relief is sufficient to maintain relatively silt free habitats in the general creek or river reaches supporting populations of notched rainbows. Healthy populations of notched rainbow are usually associated with creeks and rivers with few significant point or nonpoint sources of pollution. In the Neuse River basin in North Carolina, Eads et al. (2007) found the species tended to occur in coarse sand and sand/gravel mixtures in areas with some current.
Adult Phenology: Circadian
Phenology Comments: The oldest individual (of 190 collected) found in a survey of the upper Neuse basin in North Carolina was 14 years and age and growth studies indicate this species does not live beyond two decades in this area (Eads et al., 2006).
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Biological Research Needs: The effects of toxicants and nutrient loading need to be determined for this species. Best populations are usually found in relatively pristine watersheds. The fish host needs to be determined for this species. Host suitability studies should be conducted with such fish as Etheostoma nigrum (johnny darter) and Etheostoma olmstedi (tessellated darter). Additional life history work is needed to: (1) refine our understanding of freshwater mussel reproductive strategies, (2) develop a clar understanding of diet, growth, and metabolism, (3) assess effects of anthropogenic activity and environmental perturbation on population health, survival, and abundance, (4) clarify this species' role in sustaining the health of freshwater ecosystems, (5) define the conservation measures that support stewardship of populations (Eads et al., 2006).
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: 23Dec2011
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Cordeiro, J. (2011); Alderman, J. (1998)
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 23Dec2011
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
  • Bogan, A.E. 2002. Workbook and key to the freshwater bivalves of North Carolina. North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences: Raleigh, North Carolina. 101 pp.

  • Burch, P.R. 2002. Mollusks. [Reprinted- a preliminary list of the land and freshwater mollusks of the James River Basin, Virginia]. Walkerana, 13(29/30): 113-122.

  • Clench, W.J. and K.J. Boss. 1967. Fresh water Mollusca from James River, VA, and a new name for Mudalia of authors. The Nautilus, 80(3): 99-102.

  • Eads, C.B., A.E. Bogan, and J.F. Levine. 2006. Status and life-history aspects of Villosa constricta (Conrad 1838) (notched rainbow), in the upper Neuse River basin, North Carolina. Southeastern Naturalist, 5(4): 649-660.

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

  • Johnson, R.I. 1970a. The systematics and zoogeography of the Unionidae (Mollusca: Bivalvia) of the southern Atlantic slope region. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University 140(6):263-449.

  • LeGrand, H.E., Jr., S.P. Hall, S.E. McRae, and J.T. Finnegan. 2006. Natural Heritage Program List of the Rare Animal Species of North Carolina. North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh, North Carolina. 104 pp.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Neves, R.J. 1991. Mollusks. Pages 251-320 in K. Terwilliger (ed.). Virginia's Endangered Species. Proceedings of a Symposium, Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. McDonald and Woodward Publishing Company, Blacksburg, Virginia. 672 pp.

  • Strayer, D. 1983. The effects of surface geology and stream size on freshwater mussel (Bivalvia, Unionidae) distribution in southeastern Michigan, U.S.A. Freshwater Biology 13:253-264.

  • Strayer, D.L. 1999a. Use of flow refuges by unionid mussels in rivers. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 18(4):468-476.

  • Strayer, D.L. and J. Ralley. 1993. Microhabitat use by an assemblage of stream-dwelling unionaceans (Bivalvia) including two rare species of Alasmidonta. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 12(3):247-258.

  • Turgeon, D.D., J.F. Quinn, Jr., A.E. Bogan, E.V. Coan, F.G. Hochberg, W.G. Lyons, P.M. Mikkelsen, R.J. Neves, C.F.E. Roper, G. Rosenberg, B. Roth, A. Scheltema, F.G. Thompson, M. Vecchione, and J.D. Williams. 1998. Common and scientific names of aquatic invertebrates from the United States and Canada: Mollusks. 2nd Edition. American Fisheries Society Special Publication 26, Bethesda, Maryland: 526 pp.

  • 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. 2018. A preliminary review of the nominal genus Villosa of freshwater mussels (Bivalvia, Unionidae) in North America. Visaya, Supplement (10). 140 pp.

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

  • Watters, G.T., S.H. O'Dee, S. Chordas, and J. Rieger. 1999. Potential hosts for Villosa constricta. Triannual Unionid Report, 17: 35.

  • 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., 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
  • Alderman, J. 2006. Reconnaissance survey of the freshwater mussel fauna of the Lower Saluda and Congaree Rivers, Lake Murray, and selected tributaries. Report prepared for Kleinschmidt Associates, West Columbia, South Carolina, 31 October 2006. 166 pp.

  • Bogan, A.E. and J.M. Alderman. 2004. Workbook and key to the freshwater bivalves of South Carolina. North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences: Raleigh, North Carolina. 64 pp.

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