Rayed Bean and Snuffbox Mussels
Snuffbox mussels collected from McElroy Creek in West Virginia.
Photo by Mike Hoggarth
Questions and Answers
Rayed Bean and Snuffbox Mussels Listed as Endangered
What action is the Service taking?
The Service is listing two freshwater mussels, the rayed bean and snuffbox, as endangered under the authority of the Endangered Species Act. To list these mussels as endangered, the Service first published a proposed rule in the Federal Register on November 2, 2010 that opened se then gathered and analyzed the public comments and new information received. Based on this analysis the Service determined that these mussels are in danger of becoming extinct and therefore, the Service is now publishing a final rule in the Federal Register that adds these two mussels, the rayed bean and snuffbox, to the list of endangered species.
Why is the Service listing the rayed bean and snuffbox mussels as endangered?
The rayed bean has declined significantly across its original range. Once found in 115 streams and lakes, today it is found in only 31 streams and 1 lake, a 73 percent range decline. The species is extirpated from Illinois, Kentucky and Virginia and was extirpated from West Virginia and Tennessee before being reintroduced in 2006 and 2008, respectively.
The snuffbox was known from 210 streams and lakes but is now found in only 79 streams, a 62 percent decline in occupied streams. However, the range reduction combined with population losses represent an actual range and population decline of at least 90 percent. Most existing populations are small and isolated. The species has been lost from Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi and New York.
The existence of most of the remaining populations of rayed and snuffbox mussels is threatened by point and nonpoint source pollution, sedimentation and physical changes in streambed structure.
Where are the rayed bean and snuffbox mussels found?
The rayed bean is currently found in Indiana, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and West Virginia, as well as Ontario, Canada.
The snuffbox is currently found in Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Ontario, Canada.
Why should we be concerned about the potential extinction of freshwater mussels?
North America has the highest diversity of freshwater mussels in the world. Of the 300 freshwater mussel species in North America, 38 have gone extinct during recent history and another 77 species are considered critically imperiled. Mussels, because they can close their shells for protection and tend to be long-lived, respond to long-term ecological changes rather than short-term disturbances. Loss and imperilment of so many species indicate long-term harmful trends in our waterways that affect many aquatic species as well as people who depend on those waterways for drinking water and recreation.
Additionally, mussels are important members of their ecosystems. Mussel beds provide habitat for aquatic invertebrates and fish; raccoons, otters, and wading birds eat mussels; and mussels filter water, providing water quality benefits.
How will listing as endangered help conserve these mussels?
Listing under the Endangered Species Act can help conserve species by focusing conservation planning and funding, raising awareness which can lead to additional opportunities and partners, and by protection from intentional and even unintentional harm.
The Endangered Species Act requires that a recovery plan be prepared for each listed species. A recovery plan identifies and prioritizes actions needed to conserve and recover a species so that it is no longer endangered or threatened. Non-governmental agencies, universities, and other federal and state agencies often carry out conservation actions identified in recovery plans.
Federally listed threatened and endangered species are usually considered as priorities during land use planning.
The Endangered Species Act prohibits all federal agencies from jeopardizing the existence of listed species. As a result, adverse impacts to listed species from federal actions are avoided, minimized, and mitigated.
Freshwater mussels are harvested commercially for use in the Japanese pearl cultivation industry. Endangered Species Act protection prohibits the take of endangered listed species, helping to ensure that harvesting does not cause the extinction of a mussel species.
How can I get more information?
Information about rayed bean and snuffbox mussels and their listing is available on our website at http://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered.
You may also write or phone:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Ohio Ecological Services Field Office
4625 Morse Road, Suite 104
Columbus, Ohio 43230
(telephone 614–416–8993, ext. 22)
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