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Clubshell and Northern Riffleshell Recovery

Mussels Relocated from the Allegheny River to Illinois and Ohio

Biologists are collecting mussels from the Allegheny River in Pennsylvania to relocate into rivers with extirpated or small populations in Illinois and Ohio. Below are photos taken from the August 2013 collection trip.




Here is a captioned slideshow from the 2012 collection trip.

During the survey 20 species of mussels were found, including the endangered fanshell, and rabbitsfoot (shown here), a candidate species.
A scenic river, the Tippecanoe typically provides good fishing and canoeing. See the Indiana DNR Tippecanoe River page for information about individual sections - - http://www.in.gov/dnr/outdoor/4478.htm".

Hover cursor over image to pause slideshow.


During August 23, 2012 collection, staff from the following agencies and organizations helped with the collection: Columbus Zoo Freshwater Mussel Conservation and Research Center, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Illinois Natural History Survey, Ohio State University, Pennsylvania Boat and Fish Commission, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources,

Video of mussel collections from the Allegheny River in 2010.




In the News

From the News-Gazette (East Central Illinois) Aug. 31, 2012: UI Scientists Moving Mussels from Pennsylvania to Area Rivers


More about saving endangered mussels

Mussels on the Move (2010) - an article about the 2010 mussel collections on the Allegheny River


Northern Riffleshell: Translocation to the Big Darby Creek in Franklin County, Ohio (2009) - mussels for this translocation were taken from the Allegheny River


Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment for the Hegeler Zinc Smelter Site and Lyondell Chemical Company Bankruptcy Hegeler, Illinois (15-page PDF) - This Restoration Plan provided funding for the Illinois mussel collection and relocation work. The Restoration Plan is the result of a Natural Resource Damage Assessment settlement.


A huge mussel bed lies in the waters of the Allegheny River under a bridge scheduled for replacement. Over 200,000 mussels could be killed or harmed by the project. So a decision was made to move the mussels out of harms way.


Two species found under the bridge are endangered, the clubshell and northern riffleshell. Some of these mussels are being collected to help recover populations in Illinois, Ohio and West Virginia Rivers.


Collecting and moving mussels in the stretch of the Allegheny River began in 2008 with the latest collection on August 23, 2012. Relocations in 2008 and 2010 augmented existing small populations in Big Darby Creek, Ohio.


Reintroducing clubshells and riffleshells to areas where the species has been extirpated, but suitable habitat now exists, and augmenting small populations are essential recovery tools because of the extent of the species' population decline and the fact that remaining populations are isolated from each other.


Vermilion River, Illinois, Mussel Restoration - Remediation for Contaminant Releases

Large and small northern riffleshell mussels.

Large and small northern riffleshells.

Photo by USFWS; Kristen Lundh

The collection of riffleshell and clubshell mussels and relocation into the Vermilion River in Illinois is prescribed as a restoration project to remediate damage caused by hazardous substance releases into Grape Creek at the Hegeler Zinc Smelter Site. The hazardous substances included a variety of inorganic and organic compounds. These contaminants were released into the Grape Creek and the Vermilion River from a hazardous waste site located along Grape Creek in Hegeler, Illinois. Grape Creek flows into the Vermilion River a few miles downstream of the hazardous waste site. The hazardous waste site was used for a variety of activities over its long history including for a zinc smelter, mixing and distribution of pesticide chemicals. For more information, see Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment for the Hegeler Zinc Smelter Site and Lyondell Chemical Company Bankruptcy Hegeler, Illinois (15-page PDF)


Big Darby Creek, Ohio, Mussel Restoration

When the Allegheny River bridge replacement project was first proposed, a northern riffleshell augmentation and reintroduction plan was already being developed in Ohio and a captive propagation facility was in place at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, in cooperation with Ohio State University. With the mussels available for translocation and a plan and facility in place, we decided to translocate mussels from Pennsylvania to augment the small remnant population in the Big Darby Creek as a pilot project to test translocation, captive rearing, and augmentation techniques. For more, see Northern Riffleshell: Translocation to the Big Darby Creek in Franklin County, Ohio




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Last updated: February 11, 2016