Villosa vaughaniana - (I. Lea, 1838)
Carolina Creekshell
Other English Common Names: Carolina creekshell
Synonym(s): Sagittunio vaughanianus (Lea, 1834)
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Villosa vaughaniana (I. Lea, 1838) (TSN 80220)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.113038
Element Code: IMBIV47160
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 vaughaniana
Taxonomic Comments: Watters (2018) places this species in the new genus Sagittunio, based on Kuehnl (2009). Sagittunio is here maintained as a synonym.

There is uncertainty about the range and phylogenetic status of this species. A genetic study showed that a specimen of ?Villosa? sp. cf. vanuxemensis from the Red River system, Logan County (lower Cumberland River drainage), was more closely related to ?V.? ortmanni from the Green River drainage than to ?V.? vanuxemensis from the Little River system (lower Cumberland River drainage) (Kuehnl, 2009). This suggests that populations in the Green and Red river systems and perhaps other Cumberland River tributaries in Tennessee (e.g., Harpeth and Stones rivers) represent a single species. However, this study included only a single specimen from the Red River system, and additional sampling from this and other populations is needed to clarify this issue (Haag and Cicerello, 2016). Villosa vaughaniana has now been placed in the genus Sagittunio Say, 1817 containing the species Sagittunio aldermani and S. nasutus, S. subrostratus and S. vaughanianus (Watters, 2018). This species had been considered a synonym of V. delumbis.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G2G3
Global Status Last Reviewed: 15Dec2018
Global Status Last Changed: 15Dec2018
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by calculator
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: It appears to be extirpated from the type locality in South Carolina but a few new sites discovered in the same basin; and it is threatened by some habitat loss (mostly due to its restricted range) in North Carolina. Occurrences are scattered and density is low at all or nearly all sites.
Nation: United States
National Status: N2 (01Dec1998)

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)

Other Statuses

American Fisheries Society Status: Special Concern (01Jan1993)

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 1000-5000 square km (about 400-2000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: This regional endemic is native to North Carolina and South Carolina and has been found in the Cape Fear, Catawba, Pee Dee and Santee-Cooper River basins and is restricted to twelve drainage areas (Bogan and Alderman, 2008; Bogan et al., 2008). It has apparently been extirpated from the type locality in Sawney's Creek (tributary of Watreree River, Catawba River System), Camden, South Carolina, but has recently been discovered elsewhere in the Catawba basin in Chester and Lancaster Cos. (Jennifer Price, SC DNR, Jan. 2006).

Area of Occupancy: 501-2,500 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments: In North Carolina, it occurs in the Cape Fear (Alamance Co. in Mary's Creek Subbasin, Moore Co. in Bear Creek Subbasin, and Chatham Co. in Rocky River Subbasin; Yadkin-Pee Dee (Cabarrus Co. in Dutch Buffalo, Clark, and Back creek subbasins, Mecklenburg Co. in Goose and Mallard creek subbasins, Montgomery Co. in Uwharrie and Little river subbasins, Randolph Co. in Uwharrie and Little river subbasins, Richmond Co. in Big Mountain Creek Subbasin, Union Co. in Goose, Lanes, Richardson, and Crooked creek subbasins, Stanly Co. in Long, Big Bear, Stony, Little Mountain, and Mountain creek subbasins (Bogan and Alderman, 2008); and the Catawba drainages (Mecklenburg/Union county line in Six Mile Creek Subbasin (Radcliffe, 2018). In South Carolina it occurs in the neighboring Catawba basin in Kenshaw Co. (Radcliffe, 2018).

Number of Occurrences: 6 - 20
Number of Occurrences Comments: There are probably a little over 20 extant populations. Type locality is Sawney's Creek in Camden County, South Carolina. An intensive survey was made in this creek over 12 years ago and no evidence of this species could be found, nor since. In mussel surveys conducted in South Carolina in 1987, 1990, 1991 and 1992, no evidence of the Carolina creekshell could be found in South Carolina (Keferl 1998, Field Obs.). According to records by Keferl (pers. obs. 1998) and Alderman (1998) there are only 12 drainages that have extant populations. Mallard Creek (Yadkin-Pee Dee River Basin) and Six Mile Creek (Catawba River Basin) , Uwharrie River and some of its tributaries, Upper Little River, Densons Creek (Little River tributary), Rocky Creek (Little River tributary), Lanes Creek (Rocky River tributary), Goose Creek (Rocky River tributary), Crooked Creek (Rocky River tributary), Back Creek (Rocky River tributary), Dutch Buffalo Creek (Rocky River tributary), and Bear Creek (Rocky River tributary) are in the Pee Dee River Basin. Since last assessed, it has been discovered in the Catawba basin outside the extirpated type locality in Fishing Creek in Chester Co. and Prong Camp Creek and Gills Creek in Lancaster Co. (Jen Price, SC DNR, pers. comm., Jan. 2006). In South Carolina, populations are extremely sparse; generally only one or two individuals are found at a site (Taxonomic Expertise Committee 2004; Price, 2005).

Population Size: 10,000 - 100,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: It is usually not uncommon in some of the streams it is found in, but it currently has a very restricted distribution. No abundance data is available.

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Very few to few (1-12)

Overall Threat Impact: Very high - medium
Overall Threat Impact Comments: The greatest threat is widespread urban development around many of the streams where this species is found. This includes associated residential, commercial, and agricultural water use; as well as dams and impoundments.

Short-term Trend: Decline of <30% to relatively stable
Short-term Trend Comments: There is a lot of development occurring in area where this species is found, particularly the Charlotte metropolitan area. This development is changing water quality and water dynamics in the area. Despite this, overall range has remained the same and several sites continue to maintain viable populations.

Long-term Trend: Decline of 30-70%
Long-term Trend Comments: First described in 1838 from specimens found at Sawney?s creek in Kershaw County, South Carolina, it has not been found at this location in recent years despite several surveys (Price, 2005).

Environmental Specificity: Narrow to moderate.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: Viability of many sites still needs to be determined. Recent discoveries in the Catawba drainage indicate that the South Carolina ranking needs to be amended. Conduct surveys to closely monitor population trends and to look for populations near the type locality to determine if any other populations remain.

Protection Needs: A comprehensive management plan covering the entire range is required for this species that occurs in multiple drainages in different states. Initiate the process to list the Carolina creekshell as state endangered in South Carolina.

Distribution
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Global Range: (1000-5000 square km (about 400-2000 square miles)) This regional endemic is native to North Carolina and South Carolina and has been found in the Cape Fear, Catawba, Pee Dee and Santee-Cooper River basins and is restricted to twelve drainage areas (Bogan and Alderman, 2008; Bogan et al., 2008). It has apparently been extirpated from the type locality in Sawney's Creek (tributary of Watreree River, Catawba River System), Camden, South Carolina, but has recently been discovered elsewhere in the Catawba basin in Chester and Lancaster Cos. (Jennifer Price, SC DNR, Jan. 2006).

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

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
NC Alamance (37001), Anson (37007), Cabarrus (37025), Chatham (37037), Guilford (37081), Lee (37105), Mecklenburg (37119), Montgomery (37123), Moore (37125), Orange (37135), Randolph (37151), Richmond (37153), Rowan (37159), Stanly (37167), Union (37179)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
03 Haw (03030002)+, Deep (03030003)+, Lower Yadkin (03040103)+, Upper Pee Dee (03040104)+, Rocky, North Carolina, (03040105)+, Lower Pee Dee (03040201)+, Lower Catawba (03050103)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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General Description: The somewhat inflated shell is elliptical in the male and obovate in the female. The anterior margin of both sexes is rounded. The posterior end is pointed about 2/3 of the way from the ventral margin. In the male, the posterior margin below the point is a gradual curve and above the point it is stgraight in older males, but a gradual curve that blends with the dorsal margin in younger individuals. In the female, there is a distinct posterior basal swelling. There can also be a slight constriction between the basal swelling and the posterior point. The ventral margin in males is generally a gentle curve, but in females, it is usually straight. The beaks extend a little above the dorsal margin. The shell is moderately shiny with strong irregular growth lines. The periostracum is a greenish yellow to a dark brownish yellow with numerous, continuous dark green rays covering most of the shell. The overall appearance of the shell can sometimes be a uniform dark brown, but actual color is a dark brownish yellow with numerous dark green rays. The left valve has two moderately large, triangular, serrated pseudocardinal teeth. The anterior tooth is more pointed and directed slightly towards the anterior end. When the left valve is viewed from the dorsal side both pseudocardinal teeth protrude noticeably. The right valve also has two pseudocardinal teeth. The larger posterior tooth is either like a thick blade or is pointed; it is also usually parallel to the dorsal margin. There are two well developeed lateral teeth in the left valve and one in the right valve. The nacre is shiny, iridescent white or bluish0white, frequently with a paloe salmnon shade deepening toward the ventral margin. Some specimens do not show any salmon shading (Adams et al., 1`990).
Reproduction Comments: Gravid females have been found on August 23, 24, and 26, 1987, in Second Creek, Goose creek, and Lick Creek of the Pee Dee River system (Adams et al., 1990). Fish host is not known.
Habitat Type: Freshwater
Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Mobility and Migration Comments: This species probably is rather sessile with only limited movement in the substrate. Passive downstream movement may occur when mussels are displaced from the substrate during floods. Major dispersal occurs while glochidia are encysted on their hosts.
Riverine Habitat(s): CREEK, Pool
Special Habitat Factors: Benthic
Habitat Comments: This species usually occurs in muddy or silty gravel in shallow flowing water in creeks (Adams et al., 1990). Populations occur near banks in shaded pools of small streams; usually in muddy or silty gravel and in shallow water.
Adult Food Habits: Detritivore
Immature Food Habits: Parasitic
Length: 6 centimeters
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: Updated from Price, 2005: Initiate the process to list the Carolina creekshell as state endangered in South Carolina (already listed in North Carolina). Conduct a thorough search of museum records for the Carolina creekshell and determine if there are any additional historical records for this species. Conduct surveys to closely monitor population trends and to look for populations near the type locality to determine if any other populations remain. Careful land use planning is needed in the Charlotte metropolitan area to protect watershed integrity in the upper Lynches River and Catawba watersheds. Protection of land in through conservation easements and land purchasing should be a high priority especially in the vicinity of Fishing Creek and the headwater streams around the upper Lynches River. Consider species needs when participating in the environmental permit review process. Conduct further research to determine the degree of sensitivity of the Carolina creekshell to various point and non-point source pollution sources and land use impacts. Update the 1990 Recovery Plan and include Propagation, Augmentation and Restoration (PAR) cultivating juvenile mussels in a lab setting. Most life history characteristics are not known, including growth, fecundity, larval duration and glochidial hosts, so these should be addressed. A comprehensive management and recovery plan plan covering the entire range is required for this species that occurs in multiple drainages in different states.
Biological Research Needs: Additional life history needs investigating. Conduct further research to determine the degree of sensitivity to various point and non-point source pollution sources and land use impacts.
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: 15Dec2018
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Cordeiro, J. (2018; 2007); Keferl, Eugene P. (1998)
Management Information Edition Date: 19Jan2019
Management Information Edition Author: Cordeiro, J.R.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 15Dec2018
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Cordeiro, J.R.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Alderman, J. 1998c. Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program, NC Wildlife Resources Commision. Field Notes. Taken from the 14 February 1998 meeting minutes of The Scientific Council for Freshwater and Terrestrial Mollusks. Arthur E. Bogan, Chairman, North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh, North Carolina.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 140(6):263-449.

  • Kuehnl, K.F. 2009. Exploring levels of genetic variation in the freshwater mussel genus Villosa (Bivalvia: Unionidae) at different spatial and systematic scales: Implications for biogeography, taxonomy, and conservation. Ph.D. dissertation, The Ohio State University, Columbus.

  • 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.

  • Price, J. 2005. Carolina creekshell Villosa vaughaniana fact sheet. South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. Available online: http://www.dnr.sc.gov/cwcs/pdf/CarolinaCreekshell.pdf; Accessed 15 December 2018.

  • Ratcliffe, J. 2018. Natural Heritage Program List of Rare Animal Species of North Carolina. North Carolina Natural Heritage Program Report. 169 pp.

  • South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR). 2013. An Overview of the Eight Major River Basins of South Carolina. South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. 30 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.

  • 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
  • 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.

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