Something Different

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corey.raimond
Posts: 240
Joined: July 20th, 2010, 8:43 pm

Something Different

Post by corey.raimond »

Hello everyone,

I have been spending a lot more time in the past year in the rivers, surveying for various aquatic organisms, primarily freshwater mussels. Many people don’t know this but eastern US is the global hotspot for mussel diversity. To Illustrate this point, Europe has 12 species of freshwater mussels, while Tennessee has (had) 130. Also under the radar is that freshwater mussels are the most endangered group of organisms in the world. 70% of the mussels in the U.S. are extinct, endangered, or in need of special protection.

Nearly every species of mussel must attach to a host fish as a juvenile to survive. However, one species has adapted to only survive by attaching to the gills of the mudpuppy. This species is aptly name the salamander mussel (Simpsonaias ambigua). I have been lucky to see a few, as this species is exceedingly uncommon and is currently on the watch list for being listed as a federally endangered species.

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Salamander Mussel in Hand by corey.raimond, on Flickr



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Salamander Mussel by corey.raimond, on Flickr


Unfortunately one of the areas I found them is being clogged with zebra mussels, which also live under rocks and will likely result in the species becoming extirpated in the near future.

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Zebra Mussels on the Underside of a Rock by corey.raimond, on Flickr

Much more commonly found have been the host, the mudpuppy which I have found in many rivers hidden under rocks.

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Mudpuppy by corey.raimond, on Flickr

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Mudpuppy by corey.raimond, on Flickr

Eggs found in Late May

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Mudpuppy Embryo in Egg by corey.raimond, on Flickr

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Mudpuppy Eggs on the Underside of a Rock by corey.raimond, on Flickr

Juveniles in August. I saw the mother under the same rock as around 30 juveniles, presumably protecting them.

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Juvenile Mudpuppy by corey.raimond, on Flickr

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Juvenile Mudpuppy by corey.raimond, on Flickr


Here is the kinds of habitats I sampled

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Black River- South of Black River Falls by corey.raimond, on Flickr


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South Fork of the Flambeau River by corey.raimond, on Flickr


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Dalles of the St. Croix River- Taken from Pothole Trail by corey.raimond, on Flickr


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Chippewa River by corey.raimond, on Flickr

-Corey

Tamara D. McConnell
Posts: 2248
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:42 am

Re: Something Different

Post by Tamara D. McConnell »

This was a beautiful and educational post. Thanks!

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muskiemagnet
Posts: 1253
Joined: June 11th, 2010, 7:43 am
Location: kaukauna, wi

Re: Something Different

Post by muskiemagnet »

interesting subject. who knows how many we have killed off without even knowing it.

i know we have had some unpleasant exchanges, but we are good. keep doing what you are doing.

-ben

corey.raimond
Posts: 240
Joined: July 20th, 2010, 8:43 pm

Re: Something Different

Post by corey.raimond »

Thanks for the comments.

-Corey

matt ignoffo
Posts: 205
Joined: June 12th, 2010, 12:49 pm
Location: Chicago

Re: Something Different

Post by matt ignoffo »

Awesome. It can be hard enough finding pups, let alone those.

I don't think a salamander mussel has been found alive in Illinois for decades...and, as I know you know...Those are downright common compared to many others.

Also herp related: I was told that Graptemys populations are suffering - even being extirpated - in parts of their range due to lack of mussels as food.

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Antonsrkn
Posts: 971
Joined: June 10th, 2010, 1:38 pm
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Re: Something Different

Post by Antonsrkn »

Fantastic and informative post, thanks for posting. I enjoyed browsing through this!

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Matt.O
Posts: 67
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 6:57 pm
Location: Herping a defensible position.

Re: Something Different

Post by Matt.O »

Awesome post! how awesome to see mudpuppy eggs in the wild. I too have an appreciation for naiades. I basically had to take a crash coarse in indentification as we do outreach float trip programs on the Meramec River and there are over 40 species of Mussels that occur there. A few species we run into commonly are monkey face, pink heelsplitter, spectacle case. Look forward to some more.

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Andy Avram
Posts: 897
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 9:37 am
Location: NE Ohio

Re: Something Different

Post by Andy Avram »

Very nice. I have had a passing interest in Unionid mussels for about a decade now, but only in the past year or so have I started paying more attention to them. I ran a mussel workshop this summer of professional interpreters. We recorded 17 species in one couple hundred yard stretch of river (and missed a couple more species known from the same stretch). We saw saw a handful of salamander mussels (and one Snuffbox!). They are actually fairly common at this spot, as are mudpuppies.

Cool post!

Andy

corey.raimond
Posts: 240
Joined: July 20th, 2010, 8:43 pm

Re: Something Different

Post by corey.raimond »

Thanks for the comments, nice to see some interest in mussels!

Andy, that spot sounds like a gem. I hope all these species can persist with zebra mussels. I was lucky enough to find a few snuffbox myself this year.

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Federally Endangered Snuffbox Mussel by corey.raimond, on Flickr



Matt- 40 species is quite impressive. I have heard some rivers in Tennessee and Alabama used to have over 70 species in just one river! I have been able to find 33 species in the Mississippi river in SW WI, but that is including shells of some that are long dead. The spectaclecase is one of the rarest mussels in the US so that is pretty cool. If you (or anyone else) want help IDing mussels I would be happy to look at pictures.

Since some people are interested. Here is one of my favorites the "butterfly"

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Butterfly Mussel by corey.raimond, on Flickr

-Corey

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Andy Avram
Posts: 897
Joined: June 7th, 2010, 9:37 am
Location: NE Ohio

Re: Something Different

Post by Andy Avram »

Corey, it is an awesome spot. For mussels, fish and herps. I think there are around 24 species of mussels in this river, which for a Lake Erie trib is pretty good. One of the best streams for mussels off Lake Erie in Ohio, only surpassed by the Maumee (which is WAY bigger). At least here, Zebra Mussels are only a problem in the lakes. They have free floating larvae (unlike the parasitic glochidia of Unionids) so they really don't make it up the rivers, or much outside of Lake Erie (whose mussel populations are climbing back up). In fact, Zebra Mussel populations in Ohio reached their peak in the 1990's, have since declined and are reaching a stable population in the lake now (not that that makes them any better).

Andy

matt ignoffo
Posts: 205
Joined: June 12th, 2010, 12:49 pm
Location: Chicago

Re: Something Different

Post by matt ignoffo »

Wow, that's good news, Andy. It is very rare to hear anything at all positive about mussels. The Mississippi River for sure is infested with "zeebs" and they are further decimating at least a few federal species. The damn barges travel upstream. Lake Michigan is infested obviously, but so trashed to begin with it is just an afterthought IMO - as are the couple streams in NE illinois which are lake drainage.

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