Ohio Ecological Services Field Office
Midwest Region

Endangered Species


Listed Species with Lead in Ohio
  American Burying Beetle (regional)
  Bald Eagle
  Copperbelly Watersnake
  Lake Erie Watersnake
  Indiana Bat
  Lakeside Daisy
  Scioto Madtom
Purple Cat's Paw
Pearly Mussel
  Running Buffalo Clover

Candidate Species


Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) Information

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Purple Cat's Paw Pearly Mussel
Epioblasma obliquata obliquata

Current Status: Endangered

Habitat: This mussel lives in large rivers of the Ohio river basin. It prefers shallow water and requires a swift current to avoid being buried in silt. It is found on bottom substrates ranging from sand to boulders.

Behavior: Reproduction requires a stable, undisturbed habitat and a sufficient population of fish hosts to complete the mussel's larval development. When the male discharges sperm into the current, females downstream siphon in the sperm in order to fertilize their eggs, which they store in their gill pouches until the larvae hatch. The females then expel the larvae. Those that manage to attach themselves to the gills of a host fish grow into juveniles with shells of their own. At that point they detach from the host fish and settle into the streambed, ready for a long (possibly up to 50 years) life as an adult mussel.

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Why It's Endangered:
The extreme rarity of this mussel now reduces the chances of successful reproduction. Other threats include gravel dredging of rivers(which disturbs habitat) and pollution. The pesticides and fertilizers used in intensive agricultural practices contaminate rivers and streams-and become concentrated in the body tissues of such filter-feeding mussels as the purple cat's paw.

Most of the purple cat's paw populations were apparently lost when many sections of the bigger rivers in which it lived were converted to a series of large impoundments.

Zebra mussels, an exotic (non-native) species which is spreading rapidly throughout the eastern U.S., also pose a threat. By attaching in great numbers to native mussels such as the purple cat's paw, Zebra mussels suffocate and kill the native species. The purple cat's paw may be doomed.

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Last updated: February 20, 2012