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A Survey of Freshwater Mussels (Mollusca: Bivalvia: Unionida) of the Upper Barren River System, Tennessee

by Gerald R. Dinkins, Kristin I. Womble, and Steven A. Ahlstedt


The freshwater mussel fauna of the Barren River system in Kentucky is well documented, but information on mussel occurrence in the Tennessee portion of the system was lacking. We conducted mussel surveys at 56 sites in 22 streams in the Barren River system in Tennessee. We found six species at 14 sites: Alasmidonta viridis (Slippershell), Fusconaia flava (Wabash Pigtoe), Lampsilis cardium (Plain Pocketbook), Lampsilis siliquoidea (Fatmucket), Pyganodon grandis (Giant Floater), and Villosa ortmanni (Kentucky Creekshell). Our records of V. ortmanni are the first reports of this species from Tennessee, and our records of L. siliquoidea considerably expand the known range of that species in the state. We found live or freshly dead V. ortmanni at five sites, and at least two sites supported relatively large populations with evidence of recent recruitment. These observations represent important information for the conservation of this imperiled species. Overall, mussel populations in the Barren River system of Tennessee were small and scattered, which may be due, in part, to the lower mussel abundance typical of headwater streams. However, the occurrence of widespread mussel declines in this region suggests that human factors may have further reduced mussel abundance.

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