Returning freshwater mussels to Central Appalachia
Refuge biologist Patty Morrison of the Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge (WV, PA, KY) and other endangered freshwater mussel proponents are celebrating remarkable landscape-level recovery efforts made possible by exemplary partnership between our agency, state, university and private partners. The details of this steady recovery effort are described in the recently published 2014 permit report.
“Moving the needle on endangered mussel recovery takes many years and the cooperation of numerous partners,” Patty said. “Each year we mark progress forward in incremental steps through re-introductions, propagation of juvenile mussels in captivity, stocking and monitoring.”
Work to propagate, collect, stock and monitor these endangered mussels continues in the face of getting clobbered by invasive zebra mussels species that crowd out and destroy native mussel populations. Check it out:
- Purple cat’s paw pearly mussel: the second ever successful captive propagation of juvenile purple cat’s paw pearly mussel, and continued survival and growth of the 2013 juveniles in captivity;
- Clubshell mussels: the stocking of additional adult clubshell mussels to the mainstream Ohio River and Middle Island Creek in West Virginia, and continued growth of juveniles;
- Pink mucket pearly mussels: the second ever stocking of captive-raised juvenile pink muckets to the mainstem Ohio River in West Virginia, and successful detection of last year’s stocked juveniles; and
- Sheepnose mussel: the first ever successful transformation of juvenile sheepnose in cell culture media (without using a fish host).
Successful restoration of some endangered mussel populations is thanks to some pretty sensational multi-regional, multi-program cooperation across our agency and stellar conservation partnerships with the WV Department of Natural Resources, Ohio State University, Tennessee Tech University, the Columbus Zoo Freshwater Mussel Conservation and Research Center, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Illinois Natural History Survey, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, KY Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Resources and other organizations.
As Janet Clayton, wildlife diversity biologist and mussel project leader for the West Virginia DNR chimed in to say: “West Virginia has nine federally endangered mussel species. Some of the populations are listed within the recovery plans requiring restoration for de-listing. West Virginia is proud to be working with our federal and state partners in the restoration efforts for these species as it is only through the efforts of many that recovery can be accomplished.”
And…let’s not forget the divers from the our agency and WV DNR that helped restock the Ohio River, as well as other teams that collected clubshells from the Allegheny River as part of that very cool recovery project. Snorkels affixed, they dove and stocked the rivers to help guarantee the slow but steady climb to recovery.
Read more about these efforts: