Title page for ETD etd-04082009-040440

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Hove, Mark Curtis
URN etd-04082009-040440
Title Distribution and life history of the endangered James Spinymussel, pieurobema collina (bivalvia: unionidae)
Degree Master of Science
Department Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Neves, Richard J. Committee Chair
Dolloff, C. Andrew Committee Member
Farris, Jerry L. Committee Member
Helfrich, Louis A. Committee Member
  • Freshwater mussels
Date of Defense 1990-05-05
Availability restricted
Distribution of the James spinymussel (Pleurobema collina) and aspects of its life history were studied from June 1987 to October 1989. Field and laboratory observations were used to determine gravidity and glochidial release periods, fish host requirements, age class structure, growth characteristics, and juvenile survival. Stream surveys conducted at 243 sites in 20 counties revealed new populations of this species in three subdrainages (Catawba Creek, Pedlar River, and Mechums River), of the James River, greatly expanding its known range.

Female P. collina were gravid from late May through early August 1988 and 1989 in Craig Creek, Virginia, and the South Fork Potts Creek, West Virginia. Glochidia were released from late June through early July in the South Fork Potts Creek, at mean water temperatures between 21 and 25 °C, and discharges between 0.013 and 0.050 m l/sec.

Field observations and laboratory tests confirmed that cyprinids serve as fish hosts for P. collina glochidia. Glochidia of the James spinymussel were identified on the common shiner (Notropis cornutus), rosyside dace (Clinostomus funduloides), bluehead chub (Nocomis leptocephalus), pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus), and fantail darter (Etheostoma flabellare) in the South Fork Potts Creek. Eleven fish families were tested for suitability as fish hosts in the laboratory, but only the following 7 species served as hosts: bluehead chub (N. leptocephalus), rosyside dace (C. funduloides), satinfin shiner (N. analostanus), rosefin shiner (N. ardens), central stoneroller (Campostoma anomalum), blacknose dace (Rhinichthys atratulus), and mountain redbelly dace (Phoxinus oreas).

Juvenile P. collina, fed a mixture of three green algae species in chambers with and without silt, lived 50 days. Juveniles in silt grew significantly faster than those not in silt after 18 days. Age and growth characteristics of adults were obtained by thin-sectioning valves collected in muskrat middens in Dicks and Johns creeks, Virginia. Ages ranged between 3 and 19 yr, and a strong year class was identified at age 11. Mean annual mortality rate was calculated to be 9.8%.

As predicted by the von Bertalanffy growth equation, P. collina reaches a maximum length of 74.4 mm, and annual growth increments decrease from 7.04 mm/yr (age 1) to 0.88 mm/yr (age 19).

As judged by qualitative surveys, current populations of P. collina in Craig Creek, Johns Creek, and the South Fork Potts Creek appear to be self-sustaining. Populations in Catawba and Patterson creeks appear to be small and are probably in jeopardy of being extirpated. The status of the James spinymussel in Dicks Creek, Rocky Run, and Pedlar and Mechums rivers is unknown since these streams were not extensively surveyed.

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