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Freshwater Mussels Connect with Us

Over 60 species of native fresh water mussels are known to occur in West Virginia. Ten species of freshwater mussels that inhabit medium to large streams and rivers in West Virginia were listed as endangered between 1976 and 2012. These include the clubshell (Pleurobema clava), fanshell (Cyprogenia stegaria), James spiny mussel (Pleurobema collina), pink mucket (Lampsilis abrupta), northern riffleshell (Epioblasma torulosa rangiana), rayed bean (Villosa fabilis), sheepnose (Plethobasus cyphyus), spectaclecase (Cumberlandia monodonta), snuffbox (Epioblasma triquetra), and tubercled-blossom pearly mussel (Epioblasma torulosa torulosa). Many are found in gravelly substrates with moderate current. Freshwater mussels feed by filtering food particles from the water column. Juvenile and adult freshwater mussels have been documented to feed on detritus, diatoms, phytoplankton, and zooplankton. Freshwater mussels rely on fish to complete their life histories: when mussel larvae (glochidia) are released into the water by adult females, the glochidia must attach themselves within a few days to an appropriate fish host typically on the gills, which they then parasitize for a short time while developing into juvenile mussels. The loss of many historic populations was likely due to the impacts of impoundments, navigation projects, water quality degradation, deforestation and other forms of habitat alternation, including gravel and sand dredging. Impacts that directly affected the species also include reduction or elimination of fish hosts. Many of these threats continue to exist today.

Information on how to conduct surveys to determine if fresh water mussels and/or potential mussel habitat are present can be found here: West Virginia Mussel Survey Protocols (PDF - 910 Kb)

List of Mussel Surveyors in West Virginia (PDF - 88 Kb)

Snuffbox
Snuffbox
Northern Riffleshell
Northern Riffleshell
Sheepnose
Sheepnose
Rayed Bean
Rayed Bean
Pink Mucket
Pink Mucket
Fanshell
Fanshell

Clubshell
Clubshell
James Spinymussel
James Spinymussel
Tubercled Blossom
Tubercled Blossom
Spectaclecase
Spectaclecase

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Last updated: April 16, 2014