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Recovery Strategy For Northern Riffleshell, Snuffbox, Round Pigtoe, Mudpuppy Mussel and Rayed Bean in Canada [Proposed]

10.  Habitat: Mudpuppy Mussel

Habitat Identification:The Nature Conservancy (TNC 1999) states that the Mudpuppy Mussel is most commonly found in sand or silt under flat stones in areas of swift current, where it may be locally abundant.  Such a habitat is consistent with the habitat of its host, the mudpuppy.  Gordon and Layzer (1989) report that records are available from shallow sections of creeks to large rivers with calm to swift mid-depth current velocities, where it may be found in mud to cobble and boulder but primarily under large, flat rocks. Cummings and Mayer (1992) describe the habitat of this mussel as medium to large rivers on mud or gravel bars and under flat slabs or stones.  During surveys in the Meramec River Basin in Missouri, Buchanan (1980) found Mudpuppy Mussels “…under large flat rocks in a gravel, cobble and boulder substrate in 3 inches of water in swift current.”  In 1999, thirteen live specimens were located on the East Sydenham River near Florence in a similar habitat.

Mudpuppy Mussels are often found in great numbers, with up to several hundred individuals packed tightly together under a single flat rock.  The reason why Mudpuppy Mussels are found in such large concentrations is related to the close association between the mussel and its host (Parmalee and Bogan 1998).  Howard (1951) speculated that the mudpuppy feeds on adult Mudpuppy Mussels as it moves from one hiding place to another.  During the process, it becomes heavily infested with glochidia.  When the glochidia have matured, they are most likely released in the salamander’s retreat, i.e., under another large, flat stones.

 Currently Occupied HabitatMethods for delineating currently occupied habitat for the Mudpuppy Mussel follow the methods described for the Northern Riffleshell.

Geospatial Description: Currently occupied habitat for the Mudpuppy Mussel can be defined as a 50 km reach of the East Sydenham River (Figure 23).

Functional Description: Within the area defined under Currently Occupied Habitat only areas meeting the characteristics described below are deemed to represent habitat in need of conservation:

  • permanently wetted and
  • of a stream order greater than 2 and
  • sand or silt deposits under large flat rocks
  • steady to moderate flows (riverine populations only)  


Figure 23: Currently occupied habitat of the Mudpuppy Mussel in the Sydenham River.

Historically Occupied Habitat The Mudpuppy Mussel was historically known from several locations in the Detroit River as well as single records from Bear Creek in the Sydenham River watershed, the Thames River in London and the Lake St. Clair delta.