Newsroom Midwest Region

News Release
April 7, 2010

Contact:  Andy Roberts, 573-234-2132 x110

Recovery Plan Outlines Steps to Help Rare Mussel

Actions needed to recover the endangered scaleshell mussel are outlined in a recovery plan now available from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Once a wide-ranging species, scaleshell mussels are now found consistently in only three streams in Missouri.  

The recovery plan provides federal, state and tribal natural resource managers and their partners with a blueprint of actions needed to prevent the extinction of the mussel and recover it to the point that protection under the Endangered Species Act is no longer needed.  Recovery actions focus on conserving existing habitat and restoring degraded habitat, along with addressing threats to the scaleshell’s aquatic habitat immediately adjacent to and upstream of occupied watersheds.  Other actions include artificial propagation to increase and stabilize populations, and research on the biology, ecology, and genetics of the species.

Listed as endangered by the Service in 2001, the scaleshell historically occurred in 56 rivers in 13 states within the Mississippi River Drainage.  Today, the scaleshell is believed to be gone from waterways in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and all states east of the Mississippi River.  The scaleshell occurs in medium to large rivers with stable channels and good water quality. Most watersheds surrounding scaleshell streams face threats from pollution, sedimentation and destruction of habitat. In some cases, these threats are related to the surrounding land use and can originate far upstream of existing populations.  

The scaleshell is a small freshwater mussel, 1 to 4 inches in length, with a thin, fragile shell and faint green rays. The scaleshell gets its name from the scaly appearance of the shell, which is only seen in females.  Freshwater mussels such as the scaleshell are among the most imperiled animals in the United States.  They are important indicators of water quality.

Copies of the Recovery Plan for the scaleshell mussel are available from the Columbia Missouri Field Office, 101 Park DeVille Drive, Suite A, Columbia, Missouri, 65203; the plan may also be downloaded from the Service’s website at:  

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit

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