endemic to a single nation
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Type of Residency: Year-round
Global Range: (100-250 square km (about 40-100 square miles)) Based on collection records, this species was endemic to the upper James River drainage (mainstem and tributaries including the Rivanna and North) above Richmond Virginia. Recent records of this species from the Dan River (a Roanoke River tributary) in Stokes Co., North Carolina (Savidge and Wood, 2001) corroborate historic stream capture between the headwaters of the Roanoke and James River systems in the mountains of Virginia (Johnson, 2006). It is currently restricted to a few small headwater tributaries in Virginia (Lipford, 1989) and West Virginia and in a few rivers (Tar River and Dan River) in North Carolina (Boss and Clench, 1967; Hove and Neves, 1991; Bogan, 2002; Savidge and Wood, 2001).
U.S.A. (VA, WV)
Aside from this species, only two other freshwater spined mussels are known: Elliptio spinosa, a large-shelled and long-spined species known from the Altamaha River system in Georgia, and Elliptio steinstansana, a species with intermediate shell size adn spine length found only in the Tar River in North Carolina (USFWS, 1990).
Habitat and Ecology
Habitat Type: Freshwater
Comments: This species is found in waters with slow to moderate current and relatively hard water on sand and mixed sand and gravel substrates (Boss and Clench, 1967).
Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.
Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).
Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.
Number of Occurrences
Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.
Estimated Number of Occurrences: 1 - 5
Comments: The distribution of this species is defined as occurring in five 'sub-drainages' (Hove and Neves, 1991; 1994), mostly in Virginia but extending slightly into West Virginia mostly in the upper watershed of the James River (Lipford, 1989) as well as the Dan and Mayo River drainages of the Roanoke River basin (Dan River) in North Carolina in Rockingham and Stokes Cos. (LeGrand et al., 2006; Savidge and Wood, 2001) plus the Tar River although originally thought to be in error (Boss and Clench, 1967; Bogan, 2002; Savidge and Wood, 2001; Johnson, 2006). In Virginia, a population was recently discovered (2000) in the Dan River and it was once widely distributed in the James River but is now reduced to about 10-15% of its former range there (VA NHP, pers. comm., 2006).
Life History and Behavior
This species is a short-term brooder that releases glochidia in summer (late May through early August). The following fish hosts are reported in Neves (1991) and Hove and Neves (1991; 1994): the rosyside dace (Clinostomus funduloides), bluehead chub (Nocomis leptocephalus), mountain redbelly dace (Phoxinus oreas), blacknose dace (Rhynichthys atratulus), central stoneroller (Campostoma anomalum), rosefin shiner (Lythrus ardens), satinfin shiner (Cyprinella analostana), and possibly the swallowtail shiner (Notropis procne).
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Pleurobema collina
Below is the sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.
See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen.
Other sequences that do not yet meet barcode criteria may also be available.
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Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Pleurobema collina
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- Needs updating
- 1994Endangered(Groombridge 1994)
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N1 - Critically Imperiled
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: The range has been reduced to a few headwater tributaries in the Roanoke and James River basin (plus a new population in the Dan River) that are threatened by habitat degradation and competition from the Asian clam.
Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable
Comments: Restricted distribution hinders dispersal capabilities.
Environmental Specificity: Unknown
Date Listed: 07/22/1988
Lead Region: Northeast Region (Region 5)
Where Listed: Entire
Population location: Entire
Listing status: E
For most current information and documents related to the conservation status and management of Pleurobema collina , see its USFWS Species Profile
Global Short Term Trend: Decline of 70 to >90%
Comments: This species may have experienced approximately a 90% reduction in range with survival documented in only a few creeks and small rivers in the upper James River drainage (USFWS, 1988; 1990).
Global Long Term Trend: Decline of 70 to >90%
Comments: Although it is likely that the decline of this species began with municipal growth and industrialization of cities and towns in the James River watershed, much of the decline has occurred in the last 20 years. It remained widespread through the mid-1960s but now apepars to be extirpated from approximately 90% of its historic range (USFWS, 1990).
Degree of Threat: High
Comments: Rapid decline in the past few decades is due to siltation, generated by agricultural and forestry activities such as road construction and gravel dredging; invasion of the Asiatic clam as a potential competitor; impoundments on rivers (more than 50 dams on Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers in Tennessee and Kentucky) and subsequent flood control and sedimentation and change in flow regime; pollution of inland waters from municipal, industrial, and agricultural sources (chlor-alkali plants, fly ash, sulfuric acid spills, acid mine drainage, organic wastes, insecticides) with several sewage treatment plants in and around the habitat of this species (USFWS, 1988; 1990).
Biological Research Needs: Definitive negative interactions with the Asiatic clam need to be quantified. Life history details are active and ongoing through the efforts of Mark Hove and others.
Global Protection: Few (1-3) occurrences appropriately protected and managed
Comments: Much of the best habitat is within the boundaries of the Jefferson or George Washington National Forests but these are not adequately protected.
Needs: Protection needs include protection and enhancement of habitat containing populations and establishing or expanding populations within rivers and river corridors which historically contained the species. Populations other than Craig and Johns Creeks need to be supplemented to reach viable size.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Stewardship Overview: This species was declared federally endangered in the U.S. in 1988 and a recovery plan was drafted (USFWS, 1990).
James River spinymussel
The James River spinymussel, scientific name Pleurobema collina, is a species of freshwater mussel in the family Unionidae, the river mussels. This species is native to Virginia and West Virginia in the United States. It is a federally listed endangered species of the United States.
- Pleurobema collina. The Nature Conservancy.
Names and Taxonomy
Comments: Davis and Fuller (1981) placed this species in the genus Fusconaia.