2006 Highlights of the Interagency Mussel Coordination Team:
- Nine juvenile Higgins eye were collected from the Wapsipinicon River, Iowa, in the vicinity of previous host fish releases. To date, 10 juveniles have been found by monitoring efforts in the Wapsipinicon River.
- A total of 23,722 juvenile Higgins eye (2005 Cohort) were collected from 111 closed propagation cages in the Upper Mississippi River, Pool 4 (Frontenac), Minnesota. One cage contained 1,400 juveniles, a new record.
- For the first time, 500 subadult Higgins eye were placed in the Rock River, Illinois, to establish a new population.
- A total of 106 closed propagation cages were placed in the Upper Mississippi River. Fourteen cages were monitored and contained 1,444 juvenile Higgins eye.
- A total of 77 gravid females were used to inoculate over 7,000 host fish at Genoa National Fish Hatchery. 3,240 host fish were subsequently placed in propagation cages and the remaining released in Iowa and Wisconsin tributaries.
- A total of 2,445 subadult Higgins eye were placed in the Upper Mississippi River, Pools 2 and 3 to establish new populations. Approximately 35,000 subadults are currently being held in closed propagation cages for future stocking.
- A manuscript “Saving the Higgins Eye Pearlymussel (Lampsilis higginsii) from Extinction: 2002 Status Report on the Accomplishments of the Mussel Coordination Team” was accepted for publication in the Journal of the Iowa Academy of Science.
- A total of 24 juvenile winged mapleleaf were collected from three closed propagation cages placed in the St. Croix River in 2005. Some juveniles were covered with zebra mussels.
- In April, nine closed propagation cages containing channel catfish inoculated with winged mapleleaf glochidia were placed in the St. Croix (5 cages) and Upper Mississippi Rivers (4 cages). Catfish were inoculated in September, 2005, and held at the Genoa National Fish Hatchery.
- Four gravid female winged mapleleaf were collected in September and used to inoculate 620 channel catfish. Catfish are being held at the Genoa National Fish Hatchery for placement in cages in 2007.
- Genetic work continues at Iowa State University to evaluate populations and develop techniques for identifying juveniles produced from host fish inoculations.
Other Species and Activities
- Work continues to identify host fish and propagation techniques for a variety of Upper Mississippi River mussels. Some species like black sandshell (Ligumia recta), mucket (Actinonaias ligamentina), fat mucket (Lampsilis siliquoidea) and plain pocketbook (Lampsilis cardium) have been successfully propagated. Identifying a host fish for spectaclecase (Cumberlandia monodonata), a federal candidate species, still eludes researchers.
- Mussel surveys were conducted to estimate the population size and depth distribution of native mussels in Pool 5, Upper Mississippi River.
- Work continues on developing standard mussel sampling protocols on the Upper Mississippi River for large and small-scale projects.
- Divers collected additional video and photographs of mussel displays in the St. Croix River.
- A new GIS mussel database for the Upper Mississippi River System is nearing completion.
- A proposal “Conservation of Native Freshwater Mussels as a Program Element of the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program (NESP)” was redrafted.
- For the first time, four juvenile Higgins eye were found in the Wisconsin River, Wisconsin, downstream of open propagation cages.
- For the first time, one female subadult Higgins eye was found in the Wapsipinicon River, Iowa, in the vicinity of previous host fish releases.
- For the first time, 400 juvenile Higgins eye were collected from closed propagation cages in the Wisconsin River, Wisconsin.
- 1,200 juvenile Higgins eye were collected from one closed cage in the Upper Mississippi River, Pool 4, Minnesota (Frontenac); the previous record for one cage was 850 juveniles in 2003.
- For the first time, over 5,000 juvenile Higgins eye were collected from nine closed floating cages in the Upper Mississippi River, Pool 12, Iowa (Dubuque Ice Harbor).
- Possible fish predation of subadult Higgins eye was observed in the Upper Mississippi River, Pools 2 and 4.
- Subadult Higgins eye placed in the Upper Mississippi River, Pool 3, in 2003 are now gravid adults at Age 5.
- Seventeen adult Higgins eye were collected in shallow water (less than 3 feet deep) at the Prairie du Chien Essential Habitat Area on the Upper Mississippi River, Pool 10.
- For the first time, 11 juvenile winged mapleleaf were collected from one closed propagation cage in the St. Croix River, Minnesota (Interstate State Park).
- 300 channel catfish inoculated with glochidia are being held overwinter at the Genoa National Fish Hatchery, Wisconsin, for placement in closed propagation cages in 2006.
- The Saline River in Arkansas likely contains the largest known population of winged mapleleaf; 27 were found in a search of 28 quadrats in summer 2005. In early November 2005, 7 gravid females were collected (in 15 minutes!) and taken to Chris Barnhart at Missouri State to confirm the hosts for the southern populations.
Other Species and Activities
- For the first time, over 3,000 juvenile black sandshell were collected from three closed floating cages in the Upper Mississippi River, Pool 12, Iowa (Dubuque Ice Harbor).
- For the first time, over 200 mucket and 500 fatmucket juveniles were collected from closed propagation cages in the Upper Mississippi River, Pool 4, Minnesota (Frontenac).
- Zebra mussels continue to be a major threat to native mussels on the Upper Mississippi River System and appear to be increasing in abundance at some locations. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed the report “Distribution and Density of Zebra Mussel Veligers at Sites in the Upper Mississippi River System and its Major Tributaries, 2004”.
- The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources drafted a report “Freshwater Mussels of Minnesota: A Plan for Controlled Propagation, Reintroduction and Augmentation within the Mississippi River from St. Anthony Falls to Lake Pepin”.
- Two new types of propagation cages were tested this year; a floating cage system, and a “cage-on-a-cage” design which allows for easy removal of host fish.
- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed the report “Status of Implementation of Higgins Eye Pearlymussel (Lampsilis higginsii) Reasonable and Prudent Alternatives and Reasonable and Prudent Measures, and Winged Mapleleaf (Quadrula fragosa) Reasonable and Prudent Measures”.
2003 to 2005: Since 2000, a variety of conservation measures have been implemented by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) with assistance by the interagency Mussel Coordination Team to save the federally endangered Higgins’ eye pearlymussel (Lampsilis higginsii) from extinction. Conservation activities were required by a Biological Opinion provided to the Corps in April, 2000, for continued operation and maintenance of the Federal 9-Foot Channel Project on the Upper Mississippi River (UMR). Activities include genetics studies, mussel culture at the Genoa National Fish Hatchery, cage culture in the Upper Mississippi River and tributaries, stocking juvenile mussels, relocating adults, stocking glochidia-inoculated fish, cleaning and stockpiling adult mussels, and monitoring activities. These activities are presented in a report, “ Saving the Higgins’ Eye Pearlymussel (Lampsilis higginsii) from Extinction: 2002 Status Report on the Accomplishments of the Mussel Coordination Team”. Cage propagation of Higgins’ eye has been attempted at several locations but most successful in the Upper Mississippi River in Lake Pepin (Pool 4). Highest production was approximately 8,000 juveniles in 2003. Subadults born in 2000 – 2003 have been relocated to population establishment sites in Pools 2, 3 and 4. Monitoring of population establishment sites in the UMR and tributaries began in 2005.
In compliance with the Biological Opinion requirements, the Corps of Engineers released the “ Mississippi River Between the Missouri River and Minneapolis, 9-Foot Channel Project Measures for Managing Zebra Mussels – Reconnaissance Report" in 2003. The report recommends $1,990,000 for completion of a feasibility study.
Conservation activities by the interagency Mussel Coordination Team for the federally endangered winged mapleleaf started in 2003 and focused on implementing the “ Plan for Controlled Propagation, Augmentation, and Reintroduction of Winged Mapleleaf (Quadrula fragosa)”. Host fish were found to be channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) and blue catfish (Ictalurus furcatus) - " Winged Mapleleaf Mussel Early Life History Investigations Conducted by the U.S. Department of the Interior in FY2004".
In 2004, 100 channel catfish were inoculated with winged mapleleaf glochidia and were released into propagation cages in the St. Croix River in 2005. Eleven juveniles were collected from one cage in October, 2005. Also in 2005, 300 channel catfish were inoculated with winged mapleleaf glochidia and are currently being held at the Genoa National Fish Hatchery over the winter period for placement in cages in the spring of 2006. Future activities will also include an evaluation of potential reintroduction sites in the Upper Mississippi River System and other locations in the former range of the species. Survey efforts will also continue in Missouri and Arkansas to find additional locations, and collect individuals for genetics research. In 2005, a substantial number of winged mapleleaf were found in the Saline River, Arkansas.
In 2004, the Upper Mississippi River Conservation Committee’s ad hoc mussel committee completed the “ Conservation Plan for Freshwater Mussels of the Upper Mississippi River System”. This plan follows the format and recommendations of the National Strategy, includes portions of the 1988 strategic plan that have not been implemented, and uses the implementation of the 2000 Biological Opinion as a real-world model.
In 2004, The Mussel Coordination Team and other partners revised the popular booklet “ Freshwater Mussels of the Upper Mississippi River", first produced by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in 1985. The booklet has been a popular outreach tool for mussel identification and conservation. A free copy can be obtained from Gary Wege, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, 4101 East 80 th Street, Bloomington, Minnesota, 55425-1665, 612-725-3548 extension 207, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Because of the effects of zebra mussels, the “Recovery Plan for the Higgins' eye pearlymussel” was revised in 2004. Also in 2004, Sheepnose (Plethobasus cyphyus) and Spectaclecase (Cumberlandia monodonta) became candidate species under the Endangered Species Act.
In 2004, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service completed the “ Final Biological Opinion for the Upper Mississippi River-Illinois Waterway System Navigation Feasibility Study”. Conservation measures were included to minimize impacts to Higgins’ eye from future navigation and ecological restoration projects.
In 2004, the Corps of Engineers summarized data collected on zebra mussel abundance and distribution and produced the working draft “ Summary of Zebra Mussel Monitoring Efforts for the Upper Mississippi River, 2001 through 2003 ”. Also, abundance of zebra mussels continue to increase on the St. Croix River and may become a source population for the Upper Mississippi River.
2002: In July, the Corps released the final “Definite
Project Report and Environmental Assessment for Relocation Plan
for the Endangered Higgins’ Eye Pearlymussel (Lampsilis
higginsii), Upper Mississippi river and Tributaries, Minnesota,
Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois".
In compliance with the Biological Opinion requirements, the Corps
of Engineers released a draft reconnaissance study report, “Measures
for Managing Zebra Mussels in the Upper Mississippi River Navigation
System: Federal Interest Assessment".
2001: In February, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service released “A
Call for Actions Needed to Help Prevent the Extinction of Mussels
on the Upper Mississippi River System: Saving the Federally-Endangered
Higgins’ Eye Pearlymussel (Lampsilis higginsii)
and Endangered Winged Mapleleaf Mussel (Quadrula fragosa)"
. The report
and Fact Sheet were
prepared by the Native Mussel Subgroup of the Upper Mississippi
River/Tallgrass Prairie Ecosystem Team.
Important accomplishments of the Mussel Coordination Team in 2001
include the following:
- collection of 19 gravid female Higgins’ eye and
subsequent inoculation of 3,814 fish with Higgins’ eye
glochidia at the Genoa National Fish Hatchery, Wisconsin;
of 25 cages of glochidia-inoculated fish in the Upper Mississippi
River (UMR) and selected tributaries; several hundred juvenile
Higgins’ eye were found in the cages this fall;
inoculated fish were released into the Cedar River, Iowa, to
reestablish Higgins’ eye;
- 1,914 juvenile Higgins’ eye
from Genoa National Fish Hatchery were stocked in the UMR and
adult Higgins’ eye
were relocated from Pool 14 near Cordova, Illinois, where they
were infested with zebra mussels, to adult relocation sites
established in FY 2000 in Pools 2 and 3, which have few zebra
adults were cleaned of zebra mussels and stockpiled in the
UMR at Cassville, Wisconsin, to assess future zebra mussel
Other activities include genetics studies, mussel surveys,
and future planning efforts to implement the overall Higgins’ Eye
Pearlymussel Conservation Plan developed by the St. Paul
District in cooperation with the Mussel Conservation Team.
a report was released titled “Propagation
and Restoration of Higgins’ Eye
Pearlymussels in the Upper Mississippi River Basin; Partnership
Efforts and Achievements in 2000 - 2001".
mussel (Leptodea leptodon) listed as federally
2000: The St. Paul District Corps of Engineers
established the interagency Mussel
Conservation Team (MCT) during
to implement requirements of the Service’s May 2000 Biological
Opinion for the Federal 9-Foot Channel Project to avoid jeopardy
to the endangered Higgins’ eye pearlymussel (Lampsilis
higginsii). Higgins’ eye and other freshwater mussels
are at risk from zebra mussels, an exotic species, which are
upstream on commercial barges and other vessels. Partners of
the MCT include the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Coast
Guard, U.S. Geological Survey, National Park Service, Departments
of Natural Resources from Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois,
Science Museum of Minnesota and U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service completed
Opinion under the Endangered Species Act for continued
operation and maintenance of the existing Federal 9-foot channel
by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for an additional 50 years.
This involves operation and maintenance of locks and dams, dredging
and disposal activities, wing dams and other channel structures,
and other features of this large-scale navigation project constructed
in the 1930s. The Service concluded that this project would jeopardize
the continued existence of the federally endangered Higgins'
eye pearlymussel because it facilitates continued commercial
barge transportation on the River with vessels and equipment infested
with zebra mussels.
A Reasonable and Prudent Alternative that avoids jeopardy to Higgins'
eye was developed with the Corps of Engineers that includes development
of a Higgins' eye Relocation Action Plan and studying measures
to control zebra mussels in the Upper Mississippi River System.
Service also concluded that this project adversely affects the
federally endangered winged
mapleleaf mussel, but does not jeopardize
its continued existence. However, Reasonable and Prudent Measures
were provided to the Corps of Engineers to minimize project effects
and help conserve the species by developing an action plan to monitor
and control the abundance and distribution of zebra mussels in
the St. Croix River and conducting a winged mapleleaf relocation
to address the feasibility of establishing additional populations
within its historic range.
data find that zebra mussels caused significant
mortality to Higgins’ eye pearlymussels and other native
mussels at the Prairie du Chien Essential Habitat Area in Wisconsin.
Biologists from the Wisconsin and Minnesota Departments of Natural
Resources and Service began efforts to help the federally endangered
Higgins’ eye pearlymussel (Lampsilis higginsii).
In May, biologist from the Wisconsin and Minnesota Departments
and Service began efforts to help the federally endangered Higgins’ eye
pearlymussel (Lampsilis higginsii).
Zebra mussels, an exotic
species, have infested nearly all important mussel beds where Higgins’ eye
occur and are a serious threat to all native freshwater mussels.
Biologists recently captured gravid female Higgins’ eye from
the St. Croix River; walleye and largemouth bass (host fish) were
exposed to their glochidia in a laboratory setting. Glochidia attach
to the gills of these host fish and in a few weeks will drop off
and settle to the bottom of holding tanks where biologists hope
they will grow into juvenile mussels. These activities are taking
the Genoa National Fish Hatchery in Wisconsin. In a similar manner,
largemouth bass were recently infected with glochidia from female
Higgins’ eye and will be transferred to holding cages in
Lake Pepin where they will grow. This technique was used many years
ago by commercial clammers to commercially raise other species
of mussels and hopefully it will also work for Higgins’ eye.
a different track, biologists will soon relocate adult Higgins’ eye
from known beds in the Upper Mississippi River to areas which have
a low risk of infestation from zebra mussels in the future. One
potential relocation site is the lower Wisconsin River, and other
candidate sites are the St. Croix River and areas of the Upper
Mississippi River upstream of Lake Pepin. It is hoped that the
hatchery and holding cage techniques will be successful in providing
a reliable source of juvenile Higgins’ eye for stocking at
the relocation site(s).
By the end of the fall, several thousand
juveniles were stocked in the Lower Wisconsin River. Cage culture
of Higgins’ eye was attempted in Lake Pepin by the Minnesota
Department of Natural Resources. Biologists from the Wisconsin
Department of Natural Resources collected live Higgins’ eye
for relocation to areas of the UMR and tributaries which are
not infested with zebra mussels. To date, 206 Higgins’ eye
have been collected, cleaned of zebra mussels, and placed at a
location in the UMR near Cassville, Wisconsin, where they were
subsequently relocated to sites in Pools 2 and 3. A report was
released titled “Propagation
of the Federally Endangered Higgins’ eye pearlymussel (Lampsilis
the Genoa National Fish Hatchery as a Survival Strategy”.
1995 - 1997: Representatives from several Federal
and state natural resource agencies, the commercial mussel industry,
academia, and private agencies formed the National Native
Mussel Conservation Committee to gather information on the status
of freshwater mussel populations, research,
activities. As a result of the magnitude and immediacy of the nationwide
threats to the freshwater mussel fauna, the group agreed that a
coordinated effort of national scope was needed to prevent further
mussel extinctions and populations declines. To address this need,
the Committee published the “National
Strategy for the Conservation of Native Freshwater Mussels” and
established a subcommittee with broad-based representation
from state, tribal, and Federal agencies, the mussel industry,
private conservation groups, and the academic community to help
implement mussel conservation at the national level. Goals of this
strategy include the following:
- Increase coordination and information exchange among entities
that study, manage, harvest, conserve, or recover native
- Protect and reverse the decline of quality mussel habitat.
- Increase fundamental knowledge of basic biology and habitat
requirements of mussels so that managers can more effectively
conserve and manage our mussel fauna.
- Increase knowledge of the status and trends of native mussel
populations so that resource managers and administrators
can better determine the species and populations most at risk
which populations could be managed for sustained commercial
- Determine how various perturbations impact mussels and their
habitat, and provide managers with the information needed
to minimize or eliminate threats and protect quality mussel
- Develop management options to eliminate or reduce the threat
of zebra mussels to native mussels.
- Enhance public and government agency understanding and support
for Federal, state, local, tribal, and private programs that
protect and enhance natural stream ecosystems for the benefit
of freshwater mussels and other aquatic and aquatic-dependent
- Develop, evaluate, and use the technology necessary to propagate
and reintroduce juvenile mussels on a large scale.
- Develop, evaluate, and use the techniques necessary to hold
and translocate large numbers of adult mussels.
- Increase available funding levels and develop other means
to increase mussel conservation efforts.
Mapleleaf Mussel (Quadrula fragosa) Recovery
1989: A Recovery Plan for the Fat Pocketbook
Pearly Mussel Potamilus capax (Green 1832) completed.
1988: The Upper Mississippi River
Conservation Committee prepared a “A
Strategic Plan for the Management of the Freshwater Mussel Resource
of the Upper Mississippi
River”. The plan was the result of an increase in harvest
of mussels for cultured pearls and a large die-off of native mussels
in the river from 1982 to 1985. With the arrival of zebra mussels
in the Great Lakes in 1988 and Upper Mississippi River in 1991,
the concern for mussel conservation became national in scope.
1982: Higgins' Eye (Lampsilis higginsii) Mussel
Recovery Plan completed