Population biology and fish hosts of several federally endangered freshwater mussels (Bivalvia: Unionidae) of the upper Tennessee River drainage, Virginia and Tennessee

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Virginia Tech


A freshwater mussel survey was conducted in Indian Creek, Tazewell County, Virginia, during 1996 and 1997. Fifteen species were identified, including the federally endangered Epioblasma florentina walkeri, Villosa perpurpurea, and Quadrula cylindrica strigillata. Population assessments and fish host identifications were completed for the tan riffleshell and purple bean populations. Host fish for E. f. walkeri were limited to the banded and mottled sculpin, greenside darter, redline darter, fantail darter, and snubnose darter. Fish hosts identified for V. perpurpurea also were the banded and mottled sculpin, greenside darter, and redline darter. Size class structure of the tan riffleshell population ranged from 19.9 to 53.3 mm, with the population estimated at nearly 700 individuals with a density of 0.015/m². Size class structure of the purple bean population ranged from 22.9 to 66.7 mm, with the population estimated at only 70 individuals with a density of 0.002/m².

Host fish also were identified for Dromus dromas and Lemiox rimosus. The fantail darter was identified as a host for D. dromas, with the snubnose darter serving as a host for L. rimosus. Additional percids were implicated as hosts for both mussel species.

A molecular genetic key for identifying host fishes of the upper Clinch River also was constructed. The key was constructed through the analysis of restriction fragment length polymorphisms from amplified regions of mussel DNA. Thirty-six unionid species were incorporated into the key. No host fishes were identified due to an unsolved problem with amplifying DNA from glochidia collected from wild fish.



mussels, Unionidae, Indian Creek, Clinch River, Powell River, host fish, polymerase chain reaction, restriction fragment length polymorphism, tan riffle shell, purple bean, bird-wing pearly mussel, monkeyface, dromedary pearly mussel