The brook floater is a small stream-dwelling mussel native to 16 states in the eastern U.S., the District of Columbia, and two Canadian provinces. Brook floaters depend on streams with clean, flowing water and substrate that they can anchor into while filter feeding, and they are vulnerable to pollution and. A coordinated effort is underway across the range of the brook floater to standardize data collection on the species and develop the most effective strategies for restoration.
In 2016, the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife received a State Wildlife Grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to coordinate brook-floater conservation efforts across the region in partnership with Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Virginia, and the U.S. Geological Survey’s Massachusetts Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit.
The grant led to the formation of a multi-partner brook floater working group, standard survey protocols, and advances in propagation techniques. Propagated brook floater are now stocked in some rivers within its range and stocking is under consideration by managers in other states.
The species is currently found in 14 of the 16 states where it was found historically, and 15 watersheds in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Canada. The largest brook floater population is found at the foot of its range, along the Georgia-South Carolina state line in the Chattooga River, a river largely protected by national forests.
Brook floaters have yellowish or greenish shells. As juveniles, the shells are covered with dark green rays. The outer surface becomes brownish with rays partially obscured or almost black in adults. The inner shell surface is a bluish white, often with salmon, pink or purple in the beak cavity.
The brook floater depends on streams with clean, flowing water and substrate that they can anchor into while filter feeding. Their habitat is vulnerable to pollution, development,, and changes in temperature and precipitation patterns resulting from .
The brook floater has an elliptical-shaped shell that grows to a maximum length of about 3 inches, or 75mm – no bigger than a credit card.
The brook floater depends on streams with clean, flowing water and substrate that they can anchor into while filter feeding. Evidence suggests they are sensitive to high water flows that can dislodge them from stream bottoms. Their habitat is vulnerable to pollution, development,, and changes in temperature and precipitation patterns resulting from .
The brook floater is a long-term brooder, which means it undergoes fertilization in the summer and holds onto its larvae -- called glochidia -- until the following spring or summer. After the glochidia are released, they use hook-like appendages to latch onto the gills, body, or fins of fish. The glochidia take in nutrients from their unassuming hosts until they metamorphize into juvenile mussels, and drop off onto the stream bottom to mature.
When removed from the water, they have a peculiar habit of gaping their shell open to expose their orange “foot,” giving the appearance that they are sticking out their tongue.
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