Overview

Distribution

endemic to a single nation

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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Global Range: (250-1000 square km (about 100-400 square miles)) Historically, this species was widely distributed in the Ohio, Cumberland, and Tennessee river drainages (USFWS, 1984). Currently, it is present in an undetermined number of miles below three Tennessee River mainstem dams (Pickwick, Wilson, and Guntersville) and the upper Clinch River between river miles 323 and 154 (likely only extant and viable between rm 189 and 154) primarily on the Tennessee side at the Virginia border. Although reported by Parmalee et al. (1980) from the middle Cumberland River between 1977 and 1979, it was not found in recent surveys by Tennessee Valley Authority (1976) or Sickel and Chandler (1996). It is present on the Green River, Kentucky between locks 4 and 5 and in the Barren River (Green River tributary in Kentucky) below Lock and Dam 1 (USFWS, 1984). Clarke (1983) found a single living specimen in the Green River near Glenmore, Kentucky. Historical populations are gone in the upper Ohio River drainage and western parts of its range (Arkansas, Missouri, and Kansas) if in fact it ever occurred there. In Alabama, In Alabama, extant populations are in the Tennessee River tailwaters of Wilson Dam (very rare) and possibly Guntersville Dam (Mirarchi et al., 2004) but historically it is known from the following counties: Colbert, Lauderdale, Madison, Morgan, Marshall, Lawrence, Limestone.

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Historic Range:

U.S.A. (AL, IN, KY, PA, TN, VA)

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat Type: Freshwater

Comments: This species is found in medium to large rivers (20 m wide or greater) in sand, gravel, and cobble substrates in shoals. It is occasionally found on flats and muddy sand (Gordon and Layzer, 1989; USFWS, 1984).

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Habitat and Ecology

Systems
  • Freshwater
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Migration

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.

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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: 6 - 20

Comments: In the 1980s, this species was confined to under 20 sites in the Tennessee, Clinch, Cumberland, Barren and Green rivers (USFWS, 1984); fewer than half are still likely extant. In the 1980s, these included: Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers: the Cumberland River at the middle reaches in Smith Co., Tennessee; the Tennessee River, below Pickwick Dam in Tennessee and below Wilson and Guntersville Dam in Alabama; Clinch River: between Kyles Ford (rm 189.6) and State Highway 25 E. bridge (rm 153.8) in Tennessee; Green and Barren Rivers: Green River below Lock and Dam No. 5 near Glenmore in Warren Co. to Lock 4 near Woodbury, Kentucky; Barren River below Lock and Dam No. 1 near Bowling Green, Kentucky to the mouth of the river (USFWS., 1984). Clarke (1983) reported live specimens from the Green River and Barren Rivers, Kentucky (live specimens only in Green River near Glenmore) as well as two other living populations in the Clinch River Hancock Co., Tennessee, and Tennessee River in Hardin Co., Tennessee. Ahlstedt (1991) reported it from only three locations in Hancock Co., Tennessee (Upper Clinch River drainage). In Tennessee, it is a rare shell in stretches of the middle Cumberland River, primarily Smith and Trousdale Cos., and exists as a relict population in the Tennessee River above Chattanooga (Parmalee and Bogan, 1998). In Alabama, it is historically from the following counties: Colbert, Lauderdale, Madison, Morgan, Marshall, Lawrence, Limestone and may still be extant in the tailwaters of Wilson Dam and possibly Guntersville Dam (Mirarchi et al., 2004; Williams et al., 2008). In Kentucky, it is sporadic in the upper Green River where it is considered rare (Cicerello and Schuster, 2003). It has been collected in Kentucky in the Middle Green and Barren Rivers (Cochran and Layzer, 1993). It may still be extant in the Tippecanoe River, Indiana (Cummings and Berlocher, 1990). A single live specimen was collected from the East Fork White River, Indiana, in 1992 (Fisher, 2006).

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Global Abundance

100,000 - 1,000,000 individuals

Comments: Due to problems obtaining a unbiased and complete sample, abundance in mussels is difficult to estimate, and no estimates of population size or abundance have been made for this species.

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Life History and Behavior

Reproduction

The reproductive cycle of Pleurobema plenum is presumed to be similar to other Pleurobema spp. (Yokley, 1972). During spawning, males release sperm into the water column, and the sperm are taken in by the females during siphoning. Eggs are fertilized in the female's suprabranchial cavity or gills, which serve as marsupia for embryos developing to the parasitic stage (glochidia). Glochidia are released by the female and must attach to a suitable fish host for metamorphosis to the free-living juvenile stage. This species is probably a short-term breeder, based on gravid females collected in May (Ortmann, 1919). Spawning occurs in spring and glochidia are released in summer (USFWS, 1984). Glochidia are probably semicircular and hookless (Yokley, 1972; Surber, 1915). Fish hosts are unknown for this species.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Pleurobema plenum

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 2 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.  Below is a 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 and other sequences.

GATATTGGTACTTTATATTTATTGTTGGCTTTATGATCTGGTTTGATTGGGTTGGCTTTG---AGTCTTTTGATTCGAGCTGAATTAGGGCAGCCTGGTAGGTTGTTGGGAGAT---GATCAATTATATAATGTAATTGTAACAGCACATGCTTTTATAATAATTTTCTTTTTGGTGATACCTATGATGATTGGTGGTTTTGGTAATTGGCTTATTCCTCTTATG---ATTGGGGCTCCGGATATGGCTTTTCCTCGATTAAATAATTTGAGGTTTTGGTTGCTCGTGCCTGCTCTTTTTTTGTTGTTGAGATCTTCTTTGGTGGAGAGGGGTGTTGGGACTGGTTGAACGGTTTATCCACCGTTGTCTGGGAATGTTGCTCATTCTGGGGCCTCAGTGGATTTG---GCTATTTTTTCTTTGCATCTTGCTGGTGCATCTTCTATTTTGGGGGCCATTAATTTTATTTCTACTGTGGGAAATATGCGGTCTCCAGGATTGGTTGCTGAACGAATTCCTTTATTTGTGTGGGCTGTGACGGTAACAGCGGTTTTGTTGGTTGCTGCGTTGCCTGTTTTAGCTGGT---GCTATTACGATGTTGCTTACTGATCGTAATATTAATACATCTTTTTTTGATCCTGTTGGGGGGGGTGATCCGATTTTATATATGCATCTATTTTGA
-- end --

Download FASTA File
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Pleurobema plenum

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N1 - Critically Imperiled

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G1 - Critically Imperiled

Reasons: Distribution is greatly fragmented and the remaining occurrences are few and highly disjunct. Long-term viability of most populations is questionable, especially those in large rivers where zebra mussel populations are now established. Questionable taxonomic status and problems in identification complicate the problem.

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Highly vulnerable

Comments: Sensitive to pollution, siltation, habitat perturbation, inundation, commercial harvest, and loss of glochidial hosts. The species currently has a disjunct distribution from what was once a widespread distribution limiting dispersal and exchange of genetic material.

Environmental Specificity: Narrow. Specialist or community with key requirements common.

Comments: This species is found in medium to large rivers (20 m wide or greater) in sand, gravel, and cobble substrates in shoals. It is occasionally found on flats and muddy sand (Gordon and Layzer, 1989; USFWS, 1984).

Other Considerations: It is considered as endangered by the freshwater mussel subcommittee of the endangered species committee of the American Fisheries Society (Williams et al., 1993).

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
CR
Critically Endangered

Red List Criteria
A1ce

Version
2.3

Year Assessed
1996
  • Needs updating

Assessor/s
Bogan, A.E.

Reviewer/s

Contributor/s

History
  • 1994
    Endangered
    (Groombridge 1994)
  • 1990
    Endangered
    (IUCN 1990)
  • 1988
    Endangered
    (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
  • 1986
    Endangered
    (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1986)
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Current Listing Status Summary

Status: Endangered
Date Listed: 06/14/1976
Lead Region:   Southeast Region (Region 4)   
Where Listed:

Status: Experimental Population, Non-Essential
Date Listed: 10/15/2007
Lead Region:   Southeast Region (Region 4)   
Where Listed: U.S.A. (TN - specified portions of the French Broad and Holston Rivers; see 17.85(b)(1))


Population detail:

Population location: U.S.A. (TN - specified portions of the French Broad and Holston Rivers; see 17.85(b)(1))
Listing status: EXPN

Population location: Entire
Listing status: E

For most current information and documents related to the conservation status and management of Pleurobema plenum , see its USFWS Species Profile

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Global Short Term Trend: Decline of 70 to >90%

Comments: Once widely distributed in the Ohio, Tennessee, and Green Rivers and some of the largest tributaries, this species is now severely declining (Clarke, 1983; USFWS, 1984). In Illinois, it was formerly widely distributed in the Wabash and Ohio Rivers but is not extirpated from the state (Cummings and Mayer, 1997).

Global Long Term Trend: Decline of 70-90%

Comments: The species has declined significantly to only the Tennessee, Cumberland, Clinch, Green, and Barren Rivers (USFWS, 1984). It is extirpated in Pennsylvania (Bogan, 1993; Spoo, 2008) where it formerly occurred in the Upper Ohio and Middle Allegheny-Redbank drainages (Ortmann, 1919). It is also extirpated from Ohio, where it occurred in the Ohio River basin from Buffington Island to Cincinnati (Watters, 1995) and th elower Muskingum and Scioto Rivers (subfossil) below Columbus (Watters et al., 2009) including Hannibal dam pool (Little Muskingum section) where it was last seen in 2001 (Watters and Flaute, 2010). It is also extirpated in Virginia where it once occurred in the Clinch River although it may still survive as a relictual population in the Tennessee portion (Ahlsteadt, 1991; Parmalee and Bogan, 1998). Alabama distribution has been reduced to the entire northern portion of the state including lower reaches of the Elk and Paint Rock Rivers to possibly two relict populations at Wilson and Guntersville Dams (Mirarchi et al., 2004; Williams et al., 2008). It is extirpated from the McAlpine dam pool in the Ohio River at Louisville, Kentucky (and Indiana) (Watters and Flaute, 2010).

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Threats

Degree of Threat: Very high - high

Comments: Smith (1971) ranked the causes of extirpation or declines in fish species as follows: siltation, drainage of bottomland lakes, swamps, and prairie marshes, desiccation during drought, species introductions, pollution, impoundments, and increased water temperatures. All of these factors render habitats unsuitable, cause extirpations, and lead to the isolation of populations thereby increasing their vulnerability to extirpation for many aquatic species (including mussels) throughout North America. Zebra mussels, Dreissena polymorpha, have destroyed mussel populations in the Great Lakes and significantly reduced mussels in many of the large rivers of eastern North America. Zebra mussels have the potential to severely threaten other populations especially if they make their way into smaller streams. Pollution through point (industrial and residential discharge) and non-point (siltation, herbicide and fertilizer run-off) sources is perhaps the greatest on-going threat to this species and most freshwater mussels. Lowered dissolved oxygen content and elevated ammonia levels (frequently associated with agricultural runoff and sewage discharge) have been shown to be lethal to some species of freshwater naiads (Horne and McIntosh, 1979). Residential, mineral and industrial development also pose a significant threat. Rotenone, a toxin used to kill fish in bodies of water for increased sport fishery quality, has been shown to be lethal to mussels as well (Heard, 1970). Destruction of habitat through stream channelization and maintenance and the construction of dams is still a threat in some areas. Impoundments reduce currents that are necessary for basic physiological activities such as feeding, waste removal and reproduction. In addition, reduced water flow typically results in a reduction in water oxygen levels and a settling out of suspended solids (silt, etc.), both of which are detrimental. Dredging of streams has an immediate effect on existing populations by physically removing and destroying individuals. Dredging also affects the long-term recolonization abilities by destroying much of the potential habitat, making the substrates and flow rates uniform throughout the system. Natural predators include raccoons, otter, mink, muskrats, turtles and some birds (Simpson, 1899; Boepple and Coker, 1912; Evermann and Clark, 1918; Coker et al., 1921; Parmalee, 1967; Snyder and Snyder, 1969). Domestic animals such as hogs can root mussel beds to pieces (Meek and Clark, 1912). Fishes, particularly catfish, Ictalurus spp. and Amieurus spp., and freshwater drum, Aplodinotus grunniens, also consume large numbers of unionids.

The federal recovery plan (USFWS, 1984) lists the following threats: impoundment (for flood control, navigation, hydroelectric power, and recreation), siltation (due to strip mining, coal washing, dredging, farming, logging, and road construction), pollution (from municipal, agricultural, and industrial discharges). Invasion by zebra mussels is a recent threat to this species' survival.

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Management

Biological Research Needs: In order to effectively manage mussel species it is necessary to work out certain life history characteristics first. Because of their unusual life-cycle and dependence on fish for completion of that cycle, it is imperative that the host species for the rough pigtoe be ascertained. Life history studies need to be done to identify age and size at sexual maturity, recruitment success, age class structure, and other important life history parameters.

Research is needed to assess the success of watershed protection on mussel populations. Abundance and distribution of selected species needs to be monitored in order to ascertain how species abundances change over time. From that we can assess what land-use changes, conservation practices, and physical/chemical parameters are correlated with, and possibly responsible for, the biological changes.

As was stated in the taxonomic section above, this is an extremely difficult genus to identify. Arguments arise even among taxonomists regarding the "species" represented in the genus PLEUROBEMA. Although a few "morphs" have been variously identified and named, no rigorous genetic, anatomic, or conchologic study has ever been published on this group to help elucidate species boundaries or relationships.

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Global Protection: Few (1-3) occurrences appropriately protected and managed

Comments: Although some populations occur in "protected" sanctuaries (i.e. the Clinch River preserve) or natural areas, disturbances in the watershed impact populations regardless of site protection. No site is adequately protected. Nonessessential Experimental Populations (NEPs) have been proposed for reintroduction into the free-flowing reach of the French Broad River below Douglas Dam (Knox and Sevier Cos., Tennessee) to its confluence with the Holston River, Knox Co., Tennessee, and in the free-flowing reach of the Holston River below Cherokee Dam to its confluence with the French Broad River (Knox, Grainger, and Jefferson Cos., Tennessee), where this species currently does not exist (USFWS, 2006).

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Risks

Stewardship Overview: This species was listed as federally endangered in the U.S. in 1987 and a recovery plan created (USFWS, 1984).

The recovery plan (USFWS, 1984) outlines the following objectives: (1) preserve populations and presently used habitat with major emphasis on the Tennessee, Clinch, Cumberland, and Green Rivers, (2) determine the feasibility of introducing the species back into rivers within its historic range and introduce where feasible, (3) determine the number of individuals required to maintain a viable population, (4) investigate the necessity for habitat improvement and, if feasible and desirable, identify techniques and sites for improvement to include implementation, (5) develop and implement a program to monitor population levels and habitat conditions of presently established populations as well as introduced and expanding populations, (6) assess overall success of recovery program and recommend action (delist, continued protection, implement new measures, other studies, etc.).

The USFWS, in cooperation with the State of Tennessee and Conservation Fisheries, Inc., proposes to reintroduce this species into its historical habitat in the free-flowing reach of the French Broad River below Douglas Dam to its confluence with the Holston River, Knox County Tennessee, and in the free-flowing reach of the Holston River below Cherokee Dam to its confluence with the French Broad River (USFWS, 2006).

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Wikipedia

Rough pigtoe pearly mussel

The rough pigtoe pearly mussel or rough pigtoe, scientific name Pleurobema plenum, is a species of freshwater mussel, an aquatic bivalve mollusk in the family Unionidae, the river mussels.

This species is endemic to the United States.

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: The members of the genus Pleurobema are among the most difficult to identify in North America. Arguments arise even among taxonomists regarding the "species" represented in the genus Pleurobema. Stansbery (1983) summarized many of the problems and identified a few of the shell characters used to separate Pleurobema sintoxia from the morphologically similar and often co-occurring Pleurobema plenum, Pleurobema cordatum, and Pleurobema rubrum. A few "morphs" have been variously identified and named but no rigorous genetic, anatomic, or conchologic study has ever been published on this group to help elucidate species boundaries or relationships. Species status of Pleurobema plenum is questionable.

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