NC State University / College of Veterinary Medicine

Federally Endangered Species

 Tar River Spinymussel (Elliptio steinstansana)

TRSM adult
TRSM conglutinate 1
TRSM conglutinate 6 
TRSM glochidium TRSM juvenile TRSM juvees
TRSM - young with spinesTRSM - 2009TRSM - 2011

This species is endemic to the Tar and Neuse River Basins in North Carolina and is extremely rare. Only known from a few streams, its populations appear to be in decline even in those locations. In 2008, four adults collected from the wild became gravid in captivity, and we used those broods to conduct laboratory host trials to determine that is uses four minnow (Cyprinidae) species. From these first trials, we managed to only produce a small number of juvenile mussels, but these have faired well in captivity after reaching 2 months of age.  They put on their first spines at approximately 7-8 mm in length.  Each year, we get a little better at propagating juveniles and keeping them alive, and we now have over 1,000 individuals reaching significant size.  

Learn more about this species.

Carolina Heelsplitter (Lasmigona decorata)

L decorata glochidia L decorata - beak sculpture L decorata juvees 4
L decorata juvee L decorata juvees 3 L decorata juvees 2

See more pictures and video of the propagation process.

This species only occurs in a few streams in North and South Carolina. In North Carolina, this species only occurs just outside the Charlotte metropolitan area. As those outlying areas around Charlotte have been developed, the habitat and water quality in the streams the Carolina Heelsplitter relies on has declined, and this animal is in danger of being extirpated from the state. Severe drought and drying stream beds in recent years has also taken a heavy toll on the remaining populations.


Learn more about this species.


Other Species


Carolina Creekshell (Villosa vaughaniana)

V vaugh - 18 mos
V vaughn - 3 yrs

We propagated this species from the Little River (Yadkin-Pee Dee River Basin) for our initial work at the state hatcheries.  The propagated individuals have reached maturity and spawned in captivity.

Learn more about this species.

Eastern Creekshell (Villosa delumbis)

V delumbis pretty shells -180
Propagated Villosa delumbis
V delumbis propagated adults - 180

This species was originally propagated experimentally to determine its fish host and to assess the state hatcheries for growout of freshwater mussels.  Currently, we are rearing this species from the Upper Catawba for eventual release back into other streams in the Upper Catawba River Basin.

Learn more about this species.

Wavy-rayed Lampmussel (Lampsilis fasciola)

L fasciola - 5 mo fasciola juveniles - 300 px Lampsilis fasciola - Pigeon

The first release of propagated mussels carried out as a partnership between our laboratory and the NC Wildlife Resources Commission occured in October 2007 when 30 adult Wavy-rayed Lampmussels propagated from the Little Tennessee River were released in the Cheoah River.  We are currently raising thousands more individuals of this species in hopes of a release on a much larger scale.  We are also raising this species from the Pigeon River (French Broad River Basin) upstream of the paper mill in Canton, NC.  In partnership with the NCWRC and Western Carolina University, these individuals will be placed in cages downstream of the paper mill to assess mussel growth and survival in those waters.

Learn more about this species.

Eastern Lampmussel (Lampsilis radiata)

radiata - 8 months
L radiata - 24 months
displaying radiata

We propagated this species from the Eno River for release into the reach of the river formerly impounded by the Pleasant Green Dam.  The dam was removed in 2006.  Find out more about this project here.

Learn more about this species.

Yellow Lampmussel (Lampsilis cariosa)

L cariosa - 2 mo
L cariosa - 18 mo
L cariosa

We also propagated this species from the Eno River to be released into the former impoundment above Pleasant Green.  Find out more about the project here.

Learn more about this species. 

Eastern Pondshell (Ligumia nasuta)

L nasuta with byssal - landscape TRH cage with mussels L nasuta gravid

We began work on this species as part of our work with the South Carolina Dept. of Natural Resources on the Broad and Congaree Rivers.  Find out more about that project here.  This species showed rapid growth both in the lab and at the hatchery and reached maturity and successfully spawned in that hatchery at the end of its second growing season.

Learn more about this species. 

Creeper (Strophitus undulatus)

Su - 18 mos
Su 30 mo
Su gravid gill

This propagation effort represented our first real success in rearing a species from the subfamily Anodontinae.  Most freshwater mussel culture done across the United States to date has dealt with species from the Lampsilini tribe.  We have raised this species to over 50 mm in length and have seen them reach maturity and successfully spawn at two and a half years old.  Our success with this state-listed species helped us learn how to culture more rare mussels like the Carolina Heelsplitter.

Learn more about this species.

Slippershell Mussel (Alasmidonta viridis)

A viridis - 12 mo A viridis 10 mo
A viridis - 18 mo

This effort represents more success with the Anodontini tribe.  We propagated this species from the Mills River (French Broad River Basin).  Unlike all other species we have cultured, we saw this species grow faster in the laboratory than it has in the hatchery setting. 

Learn more about this species. 

Brook Floater (Alasmidonta varicosa)

A varicosa adults
A varicosa - 2mm
A varicosa 2010

We are are attempting to expand our success with the Anodontines to more species.  We are currently raising this species propagated from the Johns River (Upper Catawba River Basin) for release into streams in the Upper Catawba River Basin.

Learn more about this species.

Prepare to print