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First occurrence of the Bankclimber Plectomerus dombeyanus (Valenciennes, 1827) (Mollusca: Unionidae) in Illinois.

The Bankclimber Plectomerus dombeyanus (Valenciennes, 1827) is a freshwater mussel (Mollusca: Unionidae) that typically has a thick, rhomboidal shaped, moderately inflated shell and obtains lengths up to 150-mm (Parmalee and Bogan, 1998; Williams et al., 2008). Its periostracum is greenish brown to brown and darkens to black with age, and its nacre is usually deep purple (Parmalee and Bogan, 1998; Williams et al., 2008). Plectomerus dombeyanus has been described as a "mud-loving" species that "delights in sluggish flowing water" (Call, 1895). The animal inhabits medium to large rivers, oxbow lakes, and lowland ditches, and is found in clay, mud, sand or rocky substrates (Oesch, 1984; Williams et al., 2008). It occurs along channel margins in sluggish to moderate current, but can be found buried in steep slopes a considerable distance from the main channel (Oesch, 1984; Williams et al., 2008).

Plectomerus dombeyanus is commonly found in Gulf drainage streams from the Alabama River west to eastern Texas, including the lower Mississippi River to its confluence with the Ohio River (Parmalee and Bogan, 1998; Williams et al., 2008). The species was first reported from the Ohio River basin in 1981, when two live individuals were discovered in Kentucky Lake, Trigg County, Kentucky (Pharris et al., 1984). Since then, P. dombeyanus has expanded its range throughout the lake (Parmalee and Bogan, 1998; Cicerello and Schuster, 2003), and has been found downstream of the Kentucky Dam in the Tennessee River (JES pers. obs). The Bankclimber also has been collected at three locations in the Kentucky portion of the Ohio River mainstem: 1) in 1982, a relict specimen at river mile 944, near Paducah, McCracken County (Ron Cicerello, Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission, retired, pers. comm.); 2) in 1996, a fresh-dead specimen at river mile 784, which is at its confluence with the Green River, Henderson County (Watters and Myers Flaute, 2010; Ohio State University Division of Molluscs, Columbus, Bivalve Collection #58992), and 3) in 2012, two live individuals at river mile 935 (Heidi Dunn, Ecological Specialists, Inc., pers. comm.). However, the animal has not been listed as part of Illinois' native mollusk fauna (e.g., Cummings, 1991; Cummings and Mayer, 1992; Cummings and Mayer, 1997; Tiemann et al., 2007) until now. One fresh-dead 48-mm specimen was discovered in the Ohio River at river mile 970 (37.12104N, 89.11468W) near America, Pulaski County, Illinois, on 27 June 2012 by JES (Figure 1). Another fresh-dead specimen (44-mm) was recorded from the same site on 15 August 2012 by JST and KSC. These specimens represent the first time P. dombeyanus has been recorded in Illinois. The specimens were deposited in the Illinois Natural History Survey Mollusk Collection, Champaign (INHS 42354 and INHS 42977).

The means by which the animal is expanding its known range is unknown. Pharris et al. (1984) suggested that P. dombeyanus might be expanding its range by either artificial transportation (e.g., fish stockings) or as a result of habitat alterations from impoundment construction. The fish host for P. dombeyanus is unknown at this time. Pharris et al. (1984) also pointed out that their discovery of P. dombeyanus in the Tennessee River occurred before the Tennessee-Tombigbee connection occurred. Watters and Myers Flaute (2010) stated the Meyers Pool of the Ohio River probably represents the northernmost extent of the species. Given that the Ohio River is at the extreme northern limits of the species' range, and Williams et al. (1993) listed the species as currently stable throughout its range, we do not recommend Plectomerus dombeyanus for state-listing in Illinois.

received 12/12/12

accepted 5/7/13


Call, R.E. 1895. A study of the Unionidae of Arkansas, with incidental reference to their distribution in the Mississippi Valley. Transactions of the Academy of Sciences of St. Louis 7(1):1-65.

Cicerello, R.R. and G.A. Schuster. 2003. A guide to the freshwater mussels of Kentucky. Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission Scientific and Technical Series Number 7. 62 pp.

Cummings, K.S. 1991. The aquatic Mollusca of Illinois. pp. 429-439 in L.M. Page and M.R. Jeffords, eds. Our living heritage: The biological resources of Illinois. Illinois Natural History Survey Bulletin 34(4):357-477. Cummings, K.S. and C.A. Mayer. 1992. Field guide to freshwater mussels of the Midwest. Illinois Natural History Survey, Manual 5. 194 pp.

Cummings, K.S. and C.A. Mayer. 1997. Distributional checklist and status of Illinois freshwater mussels (Mollusca: Unionacea). pp. 129145 in K.S. Cummings, A.C. Buchanan, C.A. Mayer, and T.J. Naimo, eds. Conservation and management of freshwater mussels II: initiatives for the future. Proceedings of a UMRCC Symposium, 16-18 October 1995, St. Louis, Missouri. Upper Mississippi River Conservation Committee, Rock Island, Illinois. 293 pp.

Oesch, R.D. 1984. Missouri naiads: A guide to the mussels of Missouri. Missouri Department of Conservation, Jefferson City. 270 pp.

Parmalee, P.W. and A.E. Bogan. 1998. The freshwater mussels of Tennessee. University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville. 328 pp.

Pharris, G.L., J.B. Sickel, and C.C. Chandler. 1984. Range extension of the freshwater mussel, Plectomerus dombeyanus, into the Tennessee River, Kentucky. Nautilus 98(2):74-77.

Tiemann, J.S., K.S. Cummings, and C.A. Mayer. 2007. Updates to the distributional checklist and status of Illinois freshwater mussels (Mollusca: Unionidae). Transactions of the Illinois State Academy of Science 100(1):107-123.

Watters, G.T. and C.J. Myers Flaute. 2010. Dams, zebras, and settlements: the historical loss of freshwater mussels in the Ohio River mainstem. American Malacological Bulletin 28(1-2):1-12.

Williams, J.D., M.L. Warren, Jr., K.S. Cummings, J.L. Harris, and R.J. Neves. 1993. Conservation status of freshwater mussels of the United States and Canada. Fisheries 18(9):6-22.

Williams, J.D., A.E. Bogan, and J.T. Garner. 2008. Freshwater mussels of Alabama and the Mobile Basin in Georgia, Mississippi, and Tennessee. University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa. 908 pp.

Jeremy S. Tiemann (1) *, Kevin S. Cummings (1), and John E. Schwegman (2)

(1) Illinois Natural History Survey, Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois, 1816 South Oak Street, Champaign, IL 61820

(2) 2626 Riverpoint Lane, Metropolis, IL 62960

* Correspondence:
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Author:Tiemann, Jeremy S.; Cummings, Kevin S.; Schwegman, John E.
Publication:Transactions of the Illinois State Academy of Science
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1U3IL
Date:Jan 1, 2013
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