Steps Taken During the Reintroduction of Federally-Endangered Mussels

Wednesday, September 11, 2013: 11:20 AM
Harris Brake (The Marriott Little Rock)
Jeremy Tiemann , Illinois Natural History Survey, Champaign, IL
Robert Szafoni , Illinois Department Natural Resources
Joseph Kath , Illinois Department Natural Resources
Kevin Cummings , Illinois Natural History Survey
Northern riffleshell (Epioblasma rangiana) and clubshell (Pleurobema clava) are two federally-endangered freshwater mussels that were historically present throughout the upper Ohio River and Lake Erie drainages.  The joint recovery plan, approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USWFS) in 1994, listed an objective of establishing viable populations of the mussels in various river drainages throughout the species’ ranges.  The plan stated that population augmentations and reintroductions would be needed to achieve this objective, and it was agreed that the Vermilion River (Wabash River drainage) in Illinois was a potential location for reintroduction.  Beginning in 2005, state agencies in Illinois partnered with the USFWS and state agencies in Ohio and Pennsylvania and began planning the reintroduction of these species into the Vermilion River.  Efforts included selecting potential sites based on suitable habitats (e.g., free-flowing gravel riffles) and fish hosts (e.g., darters) and the presence of a diverse mollusk assemblage.  A salvage project in Pennsylvania on the Alleghany River has provided an opportunity for the translocation of both species.  This presentation summarizes the steps taken to reintroduce the mussels and the results of the project through August 2013.